The first phase of the NPR in Bihar will start May 15, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi said today, making his first appearance before the media in six months. The BJP leader’s comment, however, was almost immediately questioned by industries minister and senior JDU leader Shyam Razak, who claimed he was unaware of any such decision and said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was the right and “competent person” to make such announcements, adding Mr Modi may have made this statement in his “personal capacity”.
The countering of the Deputy Chief Minister’s statement comes amid tension between the BJP and JDU, which have formed a coalition government in the state. Both parties have one eye on Assembly polls later this year and have spent the past few months attempting to portray a united front amid repeated challenges to Nitish Kumar’s leadership position.
“The NPR process in 2020 will be carried out between April 1 and September 30 in the country. In Bihar it will be done between May 15 and May 28, 2020,” Mr Modi said, adding that officials who refused to carry it out will face administrative and punitive action.
Last month the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to update the NPR (National Population Register) that will be conducted nationwide except in Assam, where the NRC (National Register of Citizens) was conducted last year.
In his press conference Mr Modi hit out at Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan; both have been vocal in their opposition to the NPR, the NRC and CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act).
“NPR and NRC are two different things. No state, including West Bengal, Kerala or Rajasthan, can refuse to implement CAA or NPR as centre has power to bring legislation… preparing NPR is statutory provision and no state can refuse,” he said, blaming the opposition Congress and RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) for creating confusion.
Ms Banerjee and Mr Vijayan are among several state leaders who have spoken out against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the NPR.
On Friday Mr Vijayan wrote to 11 Chief Ministers, including Ms Banerjee, urging them to unite; the missive was similar in spirit to one written by the Trinamool Congress leader last month, in which she called on opposition leaders to “save India’s soul”.
The Deputy Chief Minister also said there was no question of discussing implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) as both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah had made it clear the centre never discussed carrying it out nationwide.
Sushil Kumar Modi today also acceded to a demand by the opposition RJD – to initiate a caste census in the state – saying he would it up with the centre.
With input from PTI