The decision to have a national register of citizens (NRC) cannot be unilateral and is just a tactic to deflect attention from key issues, feel Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel, the two Congress leaders who are credited with leading the party comeback in the two states.
They were speaking in the third session of the second day of the 17th edition of Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday. The first session was with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the second with actor couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas.
“I don’t think it (NRC) is needed, there is going to be lot of resentment. You cannot ask people to leave suddenly, you cannot unilaterally take this decision,” said Amarinder Singh on the move to create a register that is meant to identify and weed out illegal immigrants.
“In border areas this (illegal immigrants) could be a problem, not in other states. This is a way to deflect attention from real issues,” Baghel added.
Speaking on the Citizenship Amendment Bill that was passed by the Cabinet last week and seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there, Amarinder Singh said: “If the Indians living abroad want to come home, they can. If any of our people are abroad and want to come home, we can’t stop that.”
Commenting on the encounter deaths of four alleged rapists in Telangana, the two chief ministers said that if policemen are attacked, they will retaliate. “If it is true that police fired in self defence then there is nothing wrong in it. If not, then it is a matter of investigation,” said Baghel.
Coming out strongly against the BJP’s ‘brand of nationalism’, Baghel said: “The difference in BJP and our nationalism is that ours has been following a certain tradition like from Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha. BJP’s nationalism is aggressive. We respect dissent, they want to finish dissent…We have to end this fear.”
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