BJP Chief Amit Shah is not backing down on his promises of preparing nation-wide NRC despite widespread condemnation from opposition parties and public alike. This is creating an atmosphere of widespread fear and panic because the detention centres are being built for those who fail to produce proper documents. Amit Shah has set a deadline for the implementation of a countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC) by stating that the exercise will be rolled out before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
He maintains that it will weed out “all illegal infiltrators from India”, a stance that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government has maintained since it came to power for the second time this year, despite the Opposition putting up stiff resistance to the move. Shah’s remarks came during a public address in Jharkhand while campaigning for the ongoing assembly elections in the state.
It was clearly noticed that Assam NRC proved to be an inconvenient experience showing us what the result of a nationwide exercise could possibly be. It took over four years and cost the central government Rs 1,600 crore to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. 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.
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.
BJP is notorious for causing public inconvenience because of its gigantic blunders, of which demonetization is a good example. What makes NRC an even bigger blunder than demonetization 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?
The immediate answer from someone who supports the NRC is “send them back to Bangladesh.” This is more ridiculous than Trump suggesting Mexico will pay for the wall. What’s in it for Mexico? Similarly, what’s in it for Bangladesh? Why would it accept illegal immigrants unless it sees some kind of political or financial benefits? The Sheikh Hasina government has already commented Bangladesh will not take in any deportees. The Modi government understands the difficulty, which is why it is going for the second option – detention centres.
The BJP’s attempt to capitalize on the anti-immigrant factor against TMC was also destroyed by Mamata Banerjee’s public outreach initiative called ‘Speak to Didi’. The initiative addressed people’s grievances against the state government and a section of TMC leaders to a great extent. It refuted the BJP’s allegations against TMC such as corruption, highhandedness and use of muscle power.
The opposition is building up public opinion against the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) bill and the NRC exercise. Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the Congress will take a leadership role in building an alliance with like-minded parties against the controversial bill and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).