The E Palaniswami government had asked Centre to remove six newly added questions
A second BJP ally – the AIADMK of Tamil Nadu – today put the brakes on the exercise of National Population Register in the state. A minister said it was because the Centre has not answered the state's queries on the subject. The government of E Palaniswami had asked the Centre to remove six newly added questions, which were to be part of the exercise.
"There were three questions in the NPR that have triggered fear among the Muslims," revenue minister RB Udhaya Kumar told NDTV. "The Centre has not replied to Tamil Nadu's plea seeking clarifications. We have not commenced the NPR exercise as there is no reply yet from centre," he added.
The new questions in the NPR – seen as a process to lay the groundwork for the controversial National Register of Citizens – have made several state governments uneasy.
The Congress-ruled states, Mamata Banerjee's Bengal and Left-ruled Kerala have refused to carry out the NPR, contending that along with the NRC and the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, it would be used to harass Muslims or even render them stateless.
Last month, BJP ally Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed his discomfort about the NPR. Mr Kumar has gone on record saying that NRC and NPR cannot be held in the state in their current form, and his state has written to the Centre, asking for a formal order in this regard.
A set of new questions in the NPR that include the birth place of one's parents, is considered the problem area as these form the basis of judging citizenship under the controversial National Register of Citizens – a tool meant to weed out illegal migrants from the country.
The CAA is meant to expedite citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who were forced to leave because of religious persecution and settled in India by 2014.
Taken together, the CAA, NRC and the NPR, have unleashed a storm of protests across the country, following which, the NRC, which was supposed to be rolled out across the country, has been put on hold.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union minister Amit Shah have both assured that as of now, there was no plan to taken NRC forward.
Today, Mr Shah told the Rajya Sabha that no document would have to be submitted for the NPR or National Population Register and no one will be declared "D" (doubtful). "No document needs to be submitted. You can give whatever information you have and leave the other questions blank," he said while replying to a discussion on the Delhi violence.
The opposition Congress, which had pushed for the discussion, was not convinced.
"It is not correct of the Home minister saying they will not be asking for these documents, what is the use of this exercise then," said senior party leader Kapil Sibal.