Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday urged the Centre to drop the new columns in NPR forms as they are not necessary and are leading to apprehensions in the minds of the people and the exercise be conducted as per the previous pattern.
The new columns in the National Population Register which are not necessary relate to parents' place of birth and Aadhaar number, he told newsmen after a meeting of workers of JD(U) of which he is the national president. "We have heard that these (columns) are not mandatory. But they are also not necessary. People fear that if they left these empty, it may be held against them if NRC is implemented," he said.
He iterated that the ongoing census be caste-based and that officials concerned have been apprised of the unanimous resolutions passed in both Houses of the state legislature to the effect. He pointed out that fresh estimates of population of social segments other than religious minorities, SCs and STs were not available after the 1931 census.
Expressing his opposition to NRC, which he had done earlier too, Kumar expressed satisfaction over Prime Minister Narendra Modi putting it on the backburner. He, however, went on to add, "Why at all ask people in NPR forms to state their parents places of birth? Even I do not know where my mother was born."
"Also what is the point in seeking Aadhar numbers in the forms? These are already in government records," he added. "We have therefore decided that our (JD-U) leaders in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will raise this issue. We will urge the government to remove these new columns. The exercise was conducted a decade ago and it can be done again on the previous pattern," he asserted.
Kumar questioned resolutions passed against the Citizenship Amendment Act in many state Assemblies, saying that the law is a central one and states have little jurisdiction in the matter though all may be free to express differences of opinion.
Asked to comment on the arrest of JNU scholar Sharjeel Imam from Jehanabad district in Bihar after being booked for sedition for his inflammatory speeches, Kumar said he ought to have an understanding of the country's law and its Constitution. "It is another thing to have an opinion on anything. But if anybody talks about Indias disintegration, who is going to accept this? No power on earth can split up India," he said.
People like Imam did not represent the views held by a large section of the people, Kumar said. The chief minister said that Bihar Police, which had been conducting raids at Imam's house and questioning his family members prior to his arrest on Tuesday, had helped the Delhi Police in the job.
Kumar, whose party had supported the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament, acknowledged that there has been considerable unrest across the country in its wake and hoped that the situation would normalise soon. He also cautioned against too much agitation against the legislation. "The matter is before the Supreme Court. It will look into whether the Act violates the Constitution or not and take a decision. Having opinions and expressing these are fine. But there must be mutual respect and harmony," he pointed out.
The JD(U) national president sought to make light of the defiant stance adopted by party leaders like Prashant Kishor and Pavan Varma with his tongue-in-cheek remark. "Our party comprises ordinary people, not great intellectuals. Though, of course, we respect all," he said.
He was also heard muttering, "How many times do I need to speak on the letter when asked about Varma's two-page note made public by the latter despite it referring to conversations about alliance partner BJP in private." He also refused to be drawn into the controversy that has erupted over Kishor engaging in a "Twitter war with top BJP leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah".
"He (Kishor) remains in touch in his professional capacity. I have learnt through newspapers that he is working for the Aam Aadmi Party (in Delhi). But then he remains in touch with so many people. I inducted him into my party on Shah's recommendation," Kumar claimed.
"I will be happy if he remains in the party (JD-U). I will be okay if he chooses otherwise. But if he has to stay, he must do so respecting the party's structure," Kumar said replying cryptically to further queries.
Referring to the 8 February assembly polls in Delhi, where the JD(U)'s tie-up with the BJP had riled Varma, Kumar said he might go to the national capital for election campaign after 30 January. He said that Tuesday's party meeting was aimed at spreading awareness about JD(U)'s policies ahead of the assembly election in Bihar, which is due later this year.
A party workers' conference will be held at Patna's Gandhi Maidan on 1 March, like the one held exactly five years ago, he added.
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Updated Date: Jan 29, 2020 14:37:03 IST