Reiterating his stand on the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country, BJP chief Amit Shah has set a 2024 deadline for implementing the list, asserting that “each and every” infiltrator will be identified and expelled by the year of the next general election.

Notwithstanding the admission by some BJP leaders in West Bengal that apprehensions over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) had cost the party dearly in the recent by-election in Bengal, the Union Home Minister, while addressing poll rallies in neighbouring state Jharkhand, said that the nation-wide exercise for NRC will most definitely be conducted.

“Today, I want to tell you that before the 2024 polls the NRC will be conducted across the country, and each and every infiltrator identified and expelled,” Amit Shah said. “Rahul Baba (Congress leader Rahul Gandhi) says don’t expel them. Where will they go, what will they eat? But I assure you that before the country goes to polls in 2024 all illegal immigrants will be thrown out,” he said in Chakradharpur and Baharagora in Jharkhand.

Shah said national issues like uprooting terrorism, Maoism and construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya were as important as matters like development. Speaking about the Ayodhya land dispute case, the BJP president alleged that the Congress made attempts to thwart the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court.

“Congress leaders would tell the Supreme Court that there is no need for hearing the case. With your (people’s) backing, we submitted that it be taken forward, and the result is that the court has ruled that only a Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya,” Shah was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.

He also attacked the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance, which is contesting against the BJP in Jharkhand. The BJP leader also gave credit to the state’s BJP government for “uprooting” the Maoist menace and for bringing in development.

“When Congress was in power, it fired upon students agitating for Jharkhand state and attacked them with batons. Now Hemant Soren (JMM leader) is sitting in the lap of the same Congress so he can become the chief minister,” he said.

Referring to the “Vikas ki Ganga” (river of progress) flowing in Jharkhand because of the “double engine” growth the Centre and the state governments had ushered in together, Shah said that the Modi government built AIIMS in Deoghar, and it will now construct an airport there and also in Bokaro, Dumka and Jamshedpur.

About 20 lakh farmers have benefited from the crop insurance scheme, he said. Within five years, the Narendra Modi government and Raghubar Das dispensation in the state uprooted Maoism and paved the way for the state’s development, he said.

He said Raghubar Das provided a “zero corruption” government and gave the state political stability. The Das government is the first in Jharkhand’s history that will complete its full term in office.

“Rahul Gandhi is in Jharkhand today. I challenge him to give an account of what Congress governments have done for Jharkhand during 55 years of their rule. We will also give an account of what we have done in five years,” he said.

Targeting the opposition alliance, the BJP chief said, “Parties that sell poll tickets, exploit Adivasis (tribals), had opposed the creation of Jharkhand and indulged in corruption involving millions and billions of rupees cannot take the state forward.”