Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah Thursday raked up the hotly disputed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the NRC, as they went about stumping in Assam and West Bengal amid the intensifying cut and thrust of a bitter electoral debate.
Reservations voiced by even the BJP's allies in the North-East notwithstanding, Modi told election rallies in Assam's Silchar and Kendukona that his party was committed to passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, a legislation set to expire with the term of the current Lok Sabha early June.
However, in an effort to assuage the concerns of the people of the region and Assam, where there were massive protests against the bill, Modi said a fresh legislation will be brought only after consulting all sections of society.
"We are committed to bringing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), but we will do it in consultation with all sections of the people in the state (Assam) and after taking their views into account," he said at an election rally in Silchar.
At the hustings in neighbouring West Bengal, Shah declared the BJP will scrap Article 370 of the Constitution which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and introduce National Register of Citizens across the country if voted to power again.
"We will remove Article 370 from Kashmir after forming the next BJP government at the Centre," Shah told an election rally at Kalimpong in Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency. His party has already made this promise in its election manifesto.
Shah alleged that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is vehemently opposed to the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is currently restricted to Assam, was "misleading" people, and vowed to introduce it in every state after winning the polls.
"It is our commitment to bring in NRC across the country to chuck out each and every infiltrator. Unlike Mamata Banerjee, we don't treat infiltrators as our vote bank. For us national security is supreme. We would ensure that each and every Hindu and Buddhist refugee gets citizenship of this country," he said.
Banerjee has repeatedly claimed the NRC, which seeks to weed out illegal migrants from Assam, will turn even bonafide Indian citizens into refugees.
The NRC got mired in a massive controversy after the names of around 40 lakh people, living in Assam for decades, were omitted from the complete draft that was released last year.
Modi told public rallies in Assam that Pakistan was created in 1947 on the basis of religion and "our brothers and sisters who were a minority in the neighbouring countries were tortured by fundamentalists".
"They (people who fled religious persecution in those countries) believed in the concept of 'Ma Bharti' (mother India) but had to suffer because of the policies of the Congress.
The CAB seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who have lived in the country for six continuous years, instead of the current requirement of 11 years, even if they have no documents.
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