Apparently finding that his party’s move to support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) in Parliament has not gone down well among his voters, the ruling JD-U, led by chief minister Nitish Kumar, has now announced not to implement the National Register for Citizens (NRC) in the state. The move assumes much political significance given the coming assembly elections in the state due only next year. This is said to be borne out of the idea that any hasty move at this moment could annoy the Muslim voters and damage the poll prospects of the JD-U.
So far two senior leaders in the party have spoken against the NRC and claimed the chief minister had already decided not to implement it in the state. The first such statement came from JD-U vice-president and poll strategist Prashant Kishor who only on Saturday had revealed that the chief minister was not in the favor of enforcing NRC in the state.
“Nitishji is not in favour of implementing NRC in Bihar. He told me that CAB alone is not bad but when it is linked with NRC then it will become dangerous,” said Kishor soon after meeting the chief minister last evening. The meeting was held in the background of Kishor constantly opposing his party’s decision to support the CAB while a section of JD-U leaders led by Rajya Sabha member RCP Singh launching vitriolic attacks on him for going against the party line. Singh even described Kishor as a leader recruited in the party on “compassionate ground” and suggesting him to quit the party.
The chief minister, on the other hand, reportedly suggested Kishor to maintain calm and not to bother criticisms saying “Kaun kya kahata hai aap mujhpar chhod dijiye (whoever says what just leave it to me).” The development amply explains how the chief minister himself is not very much “convinced” about supporting the CAB but it would be “unfair” to restrain Kishor from speaking his mind in public. This also explains the proximity Kishor enjoys with the chief minister.
What was further interesting, soon after meeting the chief minister, Kishor again turned to the social media to denounce the idea of NRC and compared it to “demonetization”—an idea of PM Narendra Modi which Nitish has continued supporting. “The idea of nationwide NRC is equivalent to demonetization of citizenship…invalid till you prove it otherwise. The biggest sufferers would be the poor and the marginalized…we know from the experience,” Kishor tweeted on Sunday.
Political experts say this can’t be rejected as the “personal observation” of a leader since Kishor happens to be the party’s vice-president, just next to the chief minister in the hierarchy of power. “The observation also explains the chief minister too is feeling cheated after initially supporting the demonetisation quite like CAB. Had the chief minister been angry over opposing the party stand, the chief minister would have acted against Kishor or suggested him to maintain restraint; rather he is silent,” observed a political expert. Curiously, Nitish also happens to be the national president of the JD-U.
Building construction department minister Ashok Choudhary also said the government would not implement NRC in Bihar. “The government has already made its stand very clear over NRC. We won’t be implementing NRC in Bihar and hence there is nothing to worry for the minorities,” Choudhary told newsmen on Sunday.
The announcement comes amid firebrand BJP minister Giriraj Singh declaring that the NRC would be implemented in the whole of the country. “NRC should be implemented in the whole of the country be it Bihar or Bengal,” Singh told the media on Sunday, blaming a section of people for creating “confusion” over CAB.