Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday rejected rumours of a rift within the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar, and said the state’s Assembly polls later this year would be fought under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s leadership, PTI reported. Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) is a part of the NDA.
Addressing an outreach rally in Vaishali district, the Bharatiya Janata Party president said: “I want to dispel all rumours about our coalition. The elections will be contested under Nitish Kumar’s leadership. Lalu Prasad [Rashtriya Janata Dal chief], who is in jail in corruption cases, may go on dreaming that our coalition will come apart. The country and the state shall progress under the leadership of [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar respectively.”
Shah also urged the people of the state to support the Citizenship Amendment Act. He accused the Opposition of spreading misinformation about the legislation and engineering violent protests. He said the Act provided for granting citizenship, and would not take it away from anybody.
Taking a swipe at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Shah said Modi sent those who chanted anti-national slogans in Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2016 to jail, but Kejriwal refused to initiate prosecution.
Nitish Kumar had on Monday called on the state Assembly to discuss the Citizenship Amendment Act. Kumar’s statement came after Opposition parties Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal criticised the law in a special session of the Assembly.
In Parliament, Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) had voted in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Act. However, soon after, differences surfaced within the party, with leaders such as Prashant Kishor and KC Tyagi opposing the law. In tweets on Sunday, Kishor said the party would not implement either the Citizenship Amendment Act or the National Register of Citizens in Bihar.
Kumar said on Monday that while the Citizenship Amendment Act can be discussed in the state Assembly, there was no question of implementing the National Register of Citizens in Bihar, a statement he had made earlier too. The NRC is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented migrants and distinguish them from Indian citizens. One such exercise in Assam last year led to the exclusion of 19 lakh people.
The BJP, after promising a nationwide NRC for the last year, backtracked in the face of massive protests earlier this month. Amit Shah said no discussion on the NRC had taken place in the Union Cabinet, a statement backed up by Modi.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on December 13, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.
At least 26 people died in last month’s protests against the law. Of these, 19 died in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.