Janata Dal (United) National Vice President Prashant Kishor on Wednesday lashed out at Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who had on Tuesday said that no matter who protests, the Citizenship Amendment Act will not be revoked.

“Being dismissive of citizens’ dissent couldn’t be the sign of strength of any government,” Kishor tweeted. “Amit Shah Ji, if you don’t care for those protesting against #CAA_NRC, why don’t you go ahead and try implementing the CAA & NRC in the chronology that you so audaciously announced to the nation!”

Kishor was referring to a press conference Shah held last year in April, during the Lok Sabha elections, in which he said there is a “chronology” for the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the National Register of Citizens. The chronology, Shah said, would be that the Citizenship Amendment Bill would be first implemented, and then the NRC would cover the whole country.

However, last month, in the face of mounting protests against the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Shah apparently backtracked, saying no discussion had been held in the government on the NRC. The “chronology” quote then became the target of social media memes and ridicule.

Addressing a rally in Lucknow on Tuesday, as part of the government’s outreach programme on the amended citizenship law, Shah said, “Let me say this here and now, this law will not be withdrawn, no matter who protests.” Shah challenged Opposition leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati for a discussion on Citizenship Amendment Act on a public forum.

JD(U)’s stance

Kishor’s Janata Dal (United), an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, had voted in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Act in Parliament last month. However, Kishor has time and again expressed his disappointment with the party’s decision.

On January 12, Kishor had thanked Congress leaders for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. “I join my voice with all to thank [the] Congress leadership for their formal and unequivocal rejection of CAA and NRC,” he tweeted. “Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi deserve special thanks for their efforts on this count.” He also claimed that the amended citizenship law and the NRC will not be implemented in Bihar.

On January 15, under increasing pressure from within his party, Janata Dal (United) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said there should be a discussion on the Citizenship Amendment Act in the state Assembly. Kumar has already ruled out the possibility of an NRC in Bihar.

On Tuesday, another Janata Dal (United) leader, Pavan Varma, wrote a critical letter to Kumar, opposing his decision to ally with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Delhi Assembly elections. He claimed Kumar had continued to hold apprehensions against the BJP in private even after returning as an ally in Bihar in 2017, and hence the decision had “deeply perplexed” him.

The Citizenship Amendment Act 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, leading to protests against it. At least 26 people have died in the protests – 19 in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.

The National Register of Citizens, on the other hand, is a proposed exercise to distinguish undocumented migrants from Indian citizens. One such exercise, carried out in Assam last year, led to the exclusion of over 19 lakh people.