The National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the issue of illegal migrants dominated the speeches of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at their respective rallies 350 km. apart in Assam on Friday.
BJP’s twin lollipops
While Mr. Shah said the BJP carried out the exercise of updating the NRC of 1951 to weed out illegal migrants brought in by the Congress, Ms. Banerjee accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “fooling” the people of Assam with the “twin lollipops” of NRC and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and depriving them of their rights.
“Give us five years to expel the infiltrators and not let even a bird fly in,” Mr. Shah said at a party rally in central Assam’s Jagiroad, praising the Sarbananda Sonowal government in the State for removing encroachment of satras (Vaishnavaite monasteries) and jungles by “Bangladeshis”.
‘Will implement Assam Accord’
Taking a dig at Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Shah said, “His father signed the Assam Accord [of 1985 that ended a violent six-year agitation for ejecting illegal migrants from the State], but the Congress could not implement its clauses. We are implementing Clause 6 [guaranteeing safeguards for the indigenous people] and if voted to power will implement the Accord.”
At western Assam’s Dhubri, Ms. Banerjee said her party Trinamool Congress was fighting to get in the names of people excluded from the NRC. “Some 22 lakh Hindus were left out along with Muslims. Except for us, no political party is providing them support,” she said. Her party is contesting nine of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam.
“Soon after the draft NRC was published, I had sent a team of my party to Assam. They were not allowed to go out of the airport [in southern Assam’s Bengali-majority Silchar] and harassed,” she alleged.
About 40.07 lakh people were excluded from the complete NRC draft published in July 2018. Documents of some 36 lakh who reapplied for inclusion are being examined. The NRC is being updated with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date according to the Assam Accord.
Ms. Banerjee also slammed the Modi government for trying to label genuine Indians as foreigners via the Citizenship Bill.
‘True chowkidar’ Biren
Earlier, at Bordumsa in Arunachal Pradesh and Thoubal in Manipur, Mr. Shah credited PM Modi for the return of peace and bringing unprecedented development to the north east. He said Manipur was in the safe hands of Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh, a “true chowkidar” by virtue of having served in the Border Security Force.