In-depth analysis

Have the Indian Citizens already rejected NRC-CAA?

Marila Latif

Chandigarh, December 31

As protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act persist across the country, 11 chief ministers have rallied against the implementation of the National Register of Citizens in their respective states.

The 11 states account for 54 per cent of India’s landmass, and 56 per cent of its total population and the wide mass protests by academicians, students, activists reveal that the citizens of this country have already rejected the stance of NRC-CAA on Indian sub-continent.

The chief ministers’ vocal opposition comes despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s insistence at a rally in the capital that his government and Parliament have not discussed the NRC, which contradicts a number of statements made by Home Minister Amit Shah as well as President Ram Nath Kovind.\

The latest CMs to join the list are Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy of Andhra Pradesh and Uddhav Thackeray of Maharashtra.

Reddy, who’s YSR Congress had supported the passage of the CAA in Parliament, announced at a rally in Kadapa that his government would not support the implementation of the NRC.

Meanwhile, addressing a delegation of Muslim leaders, Thackeray said his government would not implement the CAA or the NRC, and insisted that no detention centres will be built in Maharashtra. Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, a former ally of the BJP which joined hands with the NCP and the Congress to form the government in the state, had voted in favour of the CAA in the Lok Sabha but abstained from voting in the Rajya Sabha.

Many other non-BJP states and even NDA allies have joined the chorus against the NRC. Here’s a list of the states whose leaders have said no to the NRC.

Bihar

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on 20 December there was no question of implementing the NRC in his state. This is despite the fact that his JD(U), with 19 members in the Lok Sabha and six in the Rajya Sabha, is one of the biggest constituents of the NDA apart from the BJP, and had voted in support of the CAA.

Odisha

Naveen Patnaik, leader of the Biju Janata Dal that rules Odisha, has declined to hold the NRC in his state despite its 12 Lok Sabha and seven Rajya Sabha MPs voting in favour of the CAA in Parliament. Patnaik said on 18 December CAA has nothing to do with Indian citizens, and only deals with foreigners, which is why his party supported the amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955.

Punjab

Captain Amarinder Singh was one of the first chief ministers to come out against the CAA and the NRC. Even before the CAA was passed, Congress’ Singh had said on 7 December that it would not be allowed in Punjab. He had also said the NRC was against the democratic spirit of India.

Chhattisgarh

A day after his Punjab counterpart and fellow Congress leader opposed the NRC, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel had also declared that his state had “no need” to implement it, and that it was secure from infiltrators on 8 December. He reiterated on 23 December that the Modi government was harassing the general public bypassing “vague” laws like the CAA, and said his state won’t support such “black laws”.

Kerala

The Left Democratic Front government headed by Pinarayi Vijayan has also been opposing the CAA and the NRC since 12 December. In fact, Kerala saw the ruling Left and the opposition UDF led by the Congress unite on the same stage to oppose the CAA legislation. Vijayan has declared his solidarity with the ongoing protests across the country and said the CAA is unconstitutional.

West Bengal

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress has stood staunchly against the CAA and the NRC since the Rajya Sabha passed the law on 11 December. She has held many public rallies on the issue, and has also demanded a UN-monitored referendum for its implementation.

Rajasthan

On 22 December, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of the Congress addressed a rally in Jaipur against the new law, declaring that his government would not implement the NRC either. He also pointed out the opposition to the NRC from Bihar and Odisha, saying even NDA partners and those who supported the bill in Parliament are not standing for it.

Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, on 23 December, vowed not to implement the CAA and the NRC in the state. He observed that this law is against the spirit of the Constitution.

Delhi

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party have also spoken out against the CAA and the NRC. The AAP also opposed the new citizenship law in Parliament.

Assam proved to be an inconvenient experiment, it took over four years and reportedly cost the central government Rs 1,600 crore to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
More than 55,000 people were employed, and more than 3.2 crore people from Assam applied to register themselves.

There is no official data on what it cost the average person to find the documents, fill in the application form, travel, stand in queue for hours, register themselves, and go through a verification process where many people were called over multiple times to verify their citizenship. In several cases, the entire family had to travel long distances. Initially, 40 lakh people were excluded from the NRC list, which meant more verification rounds. All this amounted to a gigantic proportion of loss of time, money and productivity.

What makes NRC an even bigger blunder than demonetisation is that it doesn’t stop with the declaration of the final list. That is just the first part of the process. The bigger problem becomes clear when you think about the excluded people – what will happen to them? Where will they go?

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