Assam NRC: Tarun Gogoi drops a bombshell, says people in voter list could have been accommodated in citizens' register

The former chief minister’s suggestion to accept the voter list as a valid document of citizenship is seen as the continuation of the same politics around securing vote bank.

Kangkan Acharyya August 07, 2018 18:45:49 IST

Even as the BJP braces itself to set the NRC as the narrative for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday termed the citizenship survey a failed exercise as it has not been able to identify any illegal Bangladeshi migrant till now. In an interview with Firstpost the former chief made a stunning claim saying that among the 40 lakh people who are out of the citizenship document, many of them are genuine citizens.

Assam NRC Tarun Gogoi drops a bombshell says people in voter list could have been accommodated in citizens register

Former Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi. Rishiraj Bhagwati/Firstpost

“Many citizens did not find their names in the final draft NRC. Their names should have been included. They should not have been deprived. That is the reason I have said that the NRC exercise was a failed one,” the three-time chief minister said.

As per the norms of the ongoing procedure of  NRC (National Register of Citizens) update, a person's name is included in it only if he can prove his ancestry in Assam before the cut-off date of 1971. The person has to submit the prescribed documents to prove his ancestry and also his relationship with his ancestors.

When asked as to what was his suggestion to ensure that genuine citizens, found their names in the NRC even if they did not possess the requisite documents he said, “It is an easy process. If the name of a person is included in the voter list he can be accommodated in the NRC. As long as his name is there in the voter list he is an Indian citizen.”

The suggestion made by the former chief minister to include names of people in the NRC on the basis of  voter list was rather surprising because voter list in  Assam has been the main bone of  contention that gave rise to the Assam Agitation in the early 80s of the last century and finally led to the updation of the NRC now.

The six-year-long Assam Agitation sparked off in 1979 when a suspicion was widely circulated that abnormally high number of voters had been observed in the voter list of Mangaldoi Lok Sabha constituency just before a by-poll.

The intense agitation was followed by the historic Assam Accord with the government of India and the agitating All Assam Students' Union as signatories in the presence of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The NRC updation process is a part of the Assam Accord which has identification of illegal immigrants in Assam as a key demand.

From the very heydays of the Assam Agitation, the Congress had been in a denial mode that there was any flaw in the voter list. In fact, this stance of the then ruling Congress, which was seen as an attempt to protect its vote bank, was one of the reasons why the Assam Movement went on so long claiming lives of thousands.

The former chief minister’s suggestion to accept the voter list as a valid document of citizenship is seen as the continuation of the same politics around securing vote bank.

When pointed out to him that his suggestion if applied in reality may finally end up transferring names of illegal Bangladeshis from voter list to the NRC and thus providing them citizenship, he refused to concede with the flaw in his argument and reiterated that anyone with his or her name in the voter list is an Indian.

Ironically, Gogoi now claims that the NRC was his brainchild despite being one of the many Congress leaders who reportedly claimed that there are no illegal migrants in Assam.

An India Today report published in the year 2012 titled, Tarun Gogoi’s U-turn: Not a single Bangladeshi national in Assam said that the then chief minister of Assam claimed that there was no illegal Bangladeshi in Assam while addressing a rally at Juria in Nagaon district.

When reminded of it he denied ever saying it. “I did not say that. Otherwise, why would I have gone for NRC?” he asked.

When asked what the future of the Congress party would be if a good number of people lose their voting rights after the NRC updation process is over, Gogoi claimed that the future of the Congress is very bright.

“NRC is not the only issue in Assam. There are many other issues such as lack of employment opportunities and price rise of essential commodities etc.,” he said.

Interestingly, Gogoi played down party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s goof-up in addressing the NRC issue in the Rajya Sabha.

“Our leadership collects information from various sources. Not everyone knows how to transfer the correct information to the leaders,” he said.

In a wrong interpretation of the NRC updation procedure, Azad had said in the Rajya Sabha that the real number of people who are at risk of losing citizenship is more than 40 lakh because according to him the minors were not included in the list. But in reality, minors were also included in the list of 40 lakh.

The former chief minister, however, denied that the goof-up indicated any lack of coordination with the party. “Coordination is always there,” Gogoi said.

Updated Date:

also read

Assam Election 2021 Winning Candidates Full List: BJP-led alliance crosses halfway mark; check constituency-wise performance
Politics

Assam Election 2021 Winning Candidates Full List: BJP-led alliance crosses halfway mark; check constituency-wise performance

Assam Election 2021 Full List of Winning Candidates Constituency Wise: Some of the prominent winners this time are BJP leaders Sarbananda Sonowal, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Hitendra Nath Goswami, Ranjeet Kumar Dass, AGP president Atul Bora and Congress legislature party leader Debabrata Saikia and jailed anti-CAA activist Akhil Gogoi

Assembly polls: Congress debacle foregrounds party's organisational inadequacies, underscores importance of regional satraps
Politics

Assembly polls: Congress debacle foregrounds party's organisational inadequacies, underscores importance of regional satraps

Experts feel unless Congress looks at nurturing strong regional leaders, it will continue to grapple with the regaining traditional ground that it has ceded to its political rivals

More COVID-19 curbs in Assam from tomorrow; offices in urban and semi-urban areas shut for 15 days
India

More COVID-19 curbs in Assam from tomorrow; offices in urban and semi-urban areas shut for 15 days

The ASDMA said public transport will be allowed with 30 percent of seating capacity and there will be a total ban on the movement of people from 2 pm to 5 am daily