JDU national vice president Prashant Kishore(Santosh Kumar/ Hindustan Times photo)
Prashant Kishor, the Janata Dal United’s in-house critic of its stand on the citizenship law and alliance partner BJP’s push for a citizens’ register, on Thursday shared his analysis of the Centre’s insistence that the contentious national register of citizens was not on its immediate agenda. In a tweet, Prashant Kishor concluded that it was only a tactical retreat, “a pause and not the full stop”.
Prashant Kishor has been one of the few leaders in Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s party JDU to have opposed the citizenship law that lets the government fast-track citizenship for persons belonging to six minority communities from India’s three neighbours, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Kishor had echoed opposition parties to argue that the law, which the BJP insisted was only designed to give and not snatch citizenship, would be a “lethal” combo once the National Register of Citizens project is rolled out.
The concern that has been expressed by opposition parties and many civil society groups has been that the two laws put together could be used to harass Muslims in India. This apprehension triggered widespread protests in parts of the country that has led to 18 deaths so far.
At a rally in Delhi on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked opposition parties for provoking protests against the citizenship law and declared that there had been no discussion on the NRC in his Cabinet or Parliament.
That statement was immediately countered by opposition parties such as the Congress that pointed to the many occasions that government leaders had declared that the NRC was on its agenda.
Prashant Kishor waded into the ongoing around NRC. “The “there has been no discussion so far” claim is nothing but a tactical retreat in the face of nationwide protest against #CAA_NRC. It is a pause and not the full stop,” Prashant Kishor tweeted.
The JDU leader, whose day job has been to strategise for political parties, also came up with what he thought should have been done by the government.
“Govt could wait till SC (Supreme Court) judgement on CAA. A favourable court order and the whole process will be back,” he said.
Home Minister Amit Shah, who had been the most prominent face of the BJP’s push to the citizens’ register, had backed PM Modi’s new stand on NRC national television. He had also claimed that the NRC project did not have anything to do with the population register that was approved by the Union Cabinet this week.
The recent changes to the citizenship law have been challenged in the Supreme Court in more than 60 petitions. The top court has issued notice to the Centre on the petitions and will hear the case again in January.-ht