Prashant Kishor, a close aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, today drew fresh battlelines with ally BJP, tweeting that there would be no implementation of the citizenship law or list in the state. To compound it, he also thanked Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, “for their formal and unequivocal rejection of #CAA_NRC”.
The Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Citizenship Register are the two key initiatives of the BJP-led Central government. Nitish Kumar, who rolled back his party’s “no” to CAA in parliament while voting in the law, has maintained silence on the NRC. Last month, his government gave a notification for National Population Register – seen as the first step towards the NRC.
The Congress passed a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens at a meeting of the Working Committee, its highest decision-making body.
Prashant Kishor’s shoutout to Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi was seen as acknowledgment of their efforts to prevail over a section of Congress leaders toeing the line of soft Hindutva. Sources indicated that this section had wanted to maintain an ambivalent stand on the issue to keep the majority voters from getting upset.
In her address to the Working Committee, Sonia Gandhi too warned the section, top leaders of the Congress should not be under any illusion that NPR was a “benign exercise”. “Inform and content, NPR 2020 is a disguised NRC,” she said. The CAA she termed a “discriminatory and divisive” law, whose “sinister” purpose was to divide people on religious lines. A section of leaders maintain if Mr. Kumar, for the sake of the coalition, agreed to the NPR, then, later on, he would not have a problem with the National Register of Citizens either.
This was part of the reason why Prashant Kishore earlier demanded that the Chief Minister reject the NRC in clear and unequivocal terms. The demand took him close to a break with the party, amid a face-off with the BJP over his stance on citizenship law and the NRC.
As for the NPR, party sources said Prashant Kishore has indicated that people were reading too much into the state government’s notification, which happened before the controversy over the issue started.
“If you see, even Bengal and Kerala had issued the notification, but everyone backtracked once they realised it was a step in the direction of the divisive NRC,” a party leader said.