Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday said that his party Biju Janata Dal did not support the National Register of Citizens exercise.

The party had backed the Citizenship Amendment Act in Parliament. “The Citizenship Amendment Act has nothing to do with Indian citizens,” Patnaik said. “It only deals with foreigners. The Biju Janata Dal MPs, both in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, have made it clear that we do not support the NRC.”

Patnaik made the remarks before leaving for New Delhi, PTI reported. His remarks came a day after people protesting against the act took out a peaceful rally in Bhubaneswar, and urged him to make the state government’s stance clear on both the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.

The contentious amendments to the Citizenship Act allow citizenship to persecuted people of six religious communities – but not Muslims – from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.

The passage of the act has led to massive protests, particularly by students and people of the North East, in different parts of India. Protests at colleges and universities have led to aggressive police retaliation. Around 60 pleas have been filed in the Supreme Court against the act. The top court on Wednesday asked the Centre to respond to the pleas by the second week of January 2020.

On the other hand, the National Register of Citizens was an exercise carried out in Assam to differentiate undocumented migrants from genuine citizens living in the state. The final list of the register, which was published on August 31, left out over 19 lakh people, or 6% of Assam’s population.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has repeatedly asserted that the National Register of Citizens exercise will be replicated in the rest of India.