Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday stated that he will ensure that genuine Indian citizens are left out from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) if he comes to power in next Assembly elections.
Gogoi while talking at an event in Kolkata Press Club accused the BJP of playing divisive politics and driving a wedge between Assamese and Bengalis. He also slammed the current Assam government for improper implementation of the NRC.
“If I come back to power in Assam in the next Assembly elections, we will ensure that the names of each and every genuine Indian are listed in the NRC. We will implement it in a proper way,” Gogoi said.
“BJP is indulging in divisive politics in the name of implementing NRC. Be it in the Hindus and Muslims, the Assamese and Bengalis, they are dividing the people. The BJP government in Assam is depriving genuine Indian citizens of their citizenship rights,” stated the former chief minister.
He also stated that those whose names are listed in the voter’s list for the 2014 general elections should be included in the NRC.
“If someone’s name is in the voter’s list, he/she should be comprised in the NRC. Having someone’s name in the voter’s list is a proof that he is an Indian citizen. The Election Commission is a constitutional body, while the NRC is not. Before, I had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court that the 2014 voter list in Assam should be taken into account while preparing the NRC. How can you question somebody’s citizenship when that person already has a voter card?” asked Gogoi.
Questioned about the demand of BJP in West Bengal that NRC exercise is carried out in the state, Gogoi said, “Why should I comment on whether NRC should be carried out in your state (Bengal)? That will be decided by the people of Bengal.”
He stated BJP leaders like Amit Shah were creating “all sorts of confusion”. Gogoi said despite provocations from some quarters people of all communities were living peacefully and in harmony in Assam and both Assamese and Bengali were being spoken by respective linguistic communities in the state.
As Gogoi was leaving the place, representatives of two fringe outfits ‘Amra Bangla’ and ‘Banglapaksha’, asked Gogoi to talk on the recent killing of five persons in Tinsukia. Gogoi responded by stating that he was no more the Assam chief minister and so could not reply.
Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad said there was a sinister political gameplan “to keep us divided and bring out the worst in us.” “Don’t make it a Bengali-Assamese issue,” she said.