Patna: A day after Bihar’s Legislative Assembly passed a unanimous resolution saying there was no need for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state and that the National Population Register (NPR) exercise should be done as per the 2010 format, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders expressed their unhappiness and targeted their ally Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
JD(U) leaders said that Bihar was the first state with a government by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to pass a resolution against the NRC.
Senior BJP leader and Bihar Agriculture Minister Prem Kumar, without naming Nitish Kumar, said that the JD(U) should have discussed the issue with the BJP before it introduced the resolution in the state assembly which was passed unanimously. “JD(U) has neither informed us (BJP) nor discussed it with us. BJP is with the central government on this issue,” he said.
Prem Kumar said that their ally had not taken the party in confidence on the NRC. “I have registered my opposition to a resolution passed by the government,” he added.
Interestingly, when the state assembly passed a unanimous resolution on Tuesday, Prem Kumar and most of the BJP MLAs were present in the house but kept silent. However, after the resolution was passed, several BJP leaders voiced opposition, one after the other.
Senior BJP leader and Bihar Minister Vinod Singh said the decision to pass a resolution against NRC was taken in haste, mentioning that he did not agree with the “format” of the resolution. “We hope that a final decision will be taken on this issue,” he said.
Another BJP MLA, Mithlesh Tiwary, questioned the legality of the resolution. “This is not more than just advice which CM Nitish Kumar had already given to the Centre in his letter. It is the Centre which will decide whether to accept it or not,” he said.
However, BJP MLC Sanjay Paswan had a more nuanced view of the matter. “There is an NDA government led by Nitish Kumar in Bihar and the BJP is part of the Government. We have no option but to accept it. But in states where the BJP is in power on its own, NRC will be implemented as the Centre wants it,” he said.
According to BJP leaders here, what angered them was that the resolution against the NRC was passed after Leader of the Opposition, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Tejashwi Yadav, brought an adjournment motion demanding for a debate on the CAA-NRC-NPR triad. Yadav had demanded that the Government clarifies apprehensions about the contentious issues.
Opposition RJD leaders including Yadav have termed the resolution against NRC as a political victory, saying they forced the Government to say no to the NRC and change the NPR process.
In recent days, CM Nitish Kumar repeatedly stated that there was no need for NRC in the country and that it would not be implemented in Bihar.
Former JD(U) leader and poll-strategist Prashant Kishor thanked Nitish Kumar for his stance on the NPR and NRC on Wednesday. “Thank you Nitish Kumar ji for remaining true to your stand on NPR and NRC," Kishor said on Twitter.
“But beyond this, there are larger issues concerning interest of Bihar and the social harmony around us. We can only hope that you would stay true to your inner conscious and stand up on both these counts as well,” he added.
In January, Nitish Kumar had expelled two senior party leaders including Kishor and Pawan Verma for questioning his support to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
By expelling both Kishor and Verma, who were national vice-president and party general secretary respectively, from the party, Nitish Kumar had sought to assure the BJP that there was no place in the party for those opposing the CAA. The expulsion did not come as a surprise to party members as both two leaders had openly criticised the CAA even as the JD(U) voted in favour of the bill in Parliament.