The office of Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb have said that a video in which he was purportedly seen saying the National Register of Citizens exercise in his state would cost him his post is fake, The Indian Express reported. The video has been widely shared on social media in the past few days.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader reportedly made the comments at a press conference at Raiganj and Kaliyaganj in West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district, where he went on a bye-election campaign in the weekend.
“If I implement it in my state...my relatives, my father came from Bangladesh,” Deb was heard saying in the video clip that went viral. “He has got his citizenship card...After that, I was born in Tripura. So, if anyone suffers a loss due to NRC, I shall lose my chief ministership first. Am I a fool that I shall implement NRC to lose CM-ship?”
However, Deb’s media adviser Sanjay Mishra said the remarks in the video were “taken out of context for dirty politics” and to confuse people. In the unedited video, the chief minister was heard saying that the National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Bill were meant to protect Indians from “illegal immigrants, foreign infiltrators, thieves and dacoits”, The Indian Express reported. Opposition parties have criticised the BJP for deliberately omitting Muslims from the ambit of the proposed law.
Criticising his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee for opposing the NRC and the Citizenship Bill, Deb said the Trinamool Congress president did not understand what they were for. “I don’t think West Bengal CM studies and talks about things,” he added. “She speaks on impulse.”
The Citizenship Bill seeks to grant asylum to Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Sikhs in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan as they are minorities there. “People from majority communities of those countries don’t suffer human rights violations there,” he added. “If they want to sneak inside India in the dead of the night, how can that be allowed? Government of India is protecting people with NRC and CAB. Thieves, dacoits, illegal immigrants and foreign infiltrators will suffer from them.”
Giving his own example to emphasise his point, Deb made the remark that went viral. “This propaganda is being done to confuse people,” he added. “NRC and CAB will benefit Indians.”
The comments and controversy came a week after Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the National Register of Citizens, conducted in Assam till now, would be held across India. “No one irrespective of their religion should be worried [about the NRC],” Shah told the Rajya Sabha.
The Tripura chief minister is known for making controversial comments and gaffes. Last week, he claimed Mughal emperors intended to destroy the cultural wonders of Tripura by “bombing them”. The year before, he had likened communists to Mughals and the British rulers, accusing them of unsuccessfully trying to destroy Indian culture. He also told a crowd at a rally that the internet and satellites were not new to India but had existed since the time of the Mahabharata.
In September, Deb claimed that people who opposed making Hindi India’s national language do not love the country. He has also been derided for claiming ducks help recycle water and increase oxygen levels in water bodies, besides boosting the rural economy.