A minister in Maharashtra government on Saturday clarified that the state would not implement the National Population Register and the proposed National Register of Citizens until parties in the ruling alliance arrive at a consensus, The Hindu reported.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi – the alliance of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Congress – said more discussions about the population and citizens’ registers would be held. The statement came after thousands of people participated in “maha morcha” protests against the NPR and NRC exercises, and the Citizenship Amendment Act.
As first reported by Scroll.in, the NPR is the first step to creating the all-India National Register of Citizens, which will be used to identify undocumented immigrants. Kerala and West Bengal have suspended all work on the NPR, while five Congress-ruled states are mulling similar action. The Centre has set a May 1 deadline for states to implement the two exercises.
“Had a discussion with Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray and it was decided that a discussion would be held for the benefit of the citizens by discussing all matters related to NPR and NRC,” said NCP leader and state Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad. “However, nothing [of] such sort of survey will happen in Maharashtra. The chief minister has already ensured that there will be no discrimination on the basis of religions, caste and creed in progressive Maharashtra.”
Awhad also dismissed reports claiming that the state government had directed officials to start collecting data for the population register from May 1 to June 15 in a special drive. “It is unfortunate that some groups were trying to create disputes in the alliance government without any reason,” he tweeted.
In an interview to Sena mouthpiece Saamana on February 5, Thackeray had categorically ruled out the implementation of the National Register of Citizens, but said the Citizenship Amendment Act had been misunderstood.
Meanwhile, the Congress general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, Mallikarjun Kharge, on Saturday refused to talk to reporters in Mumbai about the implementation of NPR in the state, PTI reported. Mumbai Congress spokesperson Charanjit Singh Sapra alleged that “misinformation” about NPR was being spread by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s “dirty tricks” department to derail the coalition government. He clarified that the government had only decided to conduct the Census exercise from May 1 in accordance with existing procedure.