Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday attacked the Narendra Modi-led government over the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens exercise, saying it will be more disastrous than the 2016 demonetisation, PTI reported.
“The basic idea of these exercises is to ask all poor people whether they are Indian or not,” Gandhi told reporters at the party headquarters in Delhi where he was attending an event to mark Congress’ 135th foundation day. “His [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] and his 15 friends will not have to show any document and the money generated will go into the pockets of those 15 people.”
“This will be more disastrous for the people than demonetisation,” the 49-year-old leader added. “This will have twice the impact of demonetisation.”
On November 8, 2016, Modi had announced that the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were then in circulation would no longer be valid. Citizens were given less than two months’ time to exchange the notes for the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes.
Gandhi also accused the BJP of lying about the detention centres in Assam, NDTV reported. “You all saw my tweet,” he asked. “I shared Narendra Modi’s speech where he is saying there are no detention centres in India and in the same video there are visuals of a detention centre. You decide who is lying.”
The Congress leader is scheduled to visit Assam later in the day and address a public rally.
His comments came a day after the BJP had lashed out at Gandhi for saying the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens were “tax on the poor”. Union minister Prakash Javadekar had dubbed Gandhi “liar of the year”, and claimed that people were behind the Centre’s proposed moves.
The Congress leader had said the new citizenship tests would force the poor to bribe officials to get the work done. The population register is linked to the census, due in 2021, and is described as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”. The Cabinet on Tuesday approved funds of Rs 3,900 crore to update the population register. The National Register of Citizens is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented migrants.
‘Tired of your lies’
Meanwhile, at an event in Lucknow, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi said that after talking about NRC throughout the country, the BJP is now saying that there has never been any discussion on the register, ANI reported. “This country understands you, your actions, and is tired of your lies,” she added.
Gandhi also said that the Congress will continue to protest even if the other Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh do not speak up. She added that the Congress is ready to contest the 2022 Assembly elections on its own.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, grants citizenship to six religious minority groups from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, provided they have lived in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. It has been widely criticised and called discriminatory because it excludes Muslims. On the other hand, the proposed National Register of Citizens is an exercise to identify and distinguish undocumented immigrants from genuine Indian citizens.
There have been massive protests against the amended citizenship law in the last two weeks. At least 26 people died in the protests – 19 of them in Uttar Pradesh.