Is Modi’s Untruth About NRC an Attempt to Stop Growing Protests?

Is the Modi government sending out mixed signals to put the brakes on a growing people’s movement against CAA-NRC?

4 min read

Video Editor: Veeru Krishan Mohan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on the NRC at a BJP rally contradicts his own Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in Parliament. So, if Modi and Shah are saying two completely contradictory things, whom do you believe?

On this doublespeak of the government on plans for a nationwide NRC exercise, I Have A Question.

Too caught up to read or watch the story? Listen to it here:


Modi’s Statement on NRC Is Inaccurate

Is the Modi government deliberately sending out mixed signals to put the brakes on a growing people’s movement against the CAA-NRC combine?
Is the Modi government deliberately sending out mixed signals to put the brakes on a growing people’s movement against the CAA-NRC combine?
(Photo: The Quint)

On 22 December, this is what Modi told a rally at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi:

“After my government came to power, from 2014 to now, let me tell the 130 crore citizens of this country, nowhere has the NRC word been discussed or been talked about.”

Now listen to what Amit Shah told Parliament – and mind you, this isn’t some old clip – it’s from the recently concluded Winter Session of Parliament. In November 2019.

Now, I could make you listen to multiple speeches of Amit Shah addressing BJP rallies in different parts of the country and repeatedly saying that the Modi government will implement a nationwide NRC, and I will do that – but before that, let’s be clear about something.

Even if Modi’s defence is that all those are party rallies and Amit Shah and other BJP leaders were not speaking in their capacity as ministers in the central government – the comment made by Amit Shah in Parliament still remains.

A statement made by a Union Minister in the halls of Parliament is the government’s official position, on record. So, it is not accurate for Modi to say that his government has never discussed or talked about the NRC word since 2014.

NRC Mentioned in the President’s Address to Parliament

It’s not just Amit Shah who mentioned the nationwide NRC in Parliament, President Ram Nath Kovind did so as well.

As you might remember from your Civics classes in childhood, the President of India’s speeches in Parliament are essentially government communication and are written based on the aid and advice of the Union Cabinet. And no, this isn’t a conspiracy theory – this is the mandated role of the President as the nominal head of state in our democracy.

So, coming to the point, here’s what President Ram Nath Kovind told a joint session of the joint Houses of Parliament on 20 June:

“Illegal infiltrators pose a major threat to our internal security. This is leading to social imbalance in many parts of the country, as well as putting a huge pressure on limited livelihood opportunities. My Government has decided to implement the process of ‘National Register of Citizens’ on priority basis in areas affected by infiltration.”

Those are another few words on the NRC, aren’t they, Prime Minister?

Promises Outside Parliament

Let’s move on now to what Union Ministers from the BJP have been saying outside Parliament.

On 1 December 2019, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Jharkhand, and I quote, "We will implement NRC across all states of the country." That’s exactly three weeks before Modi’s Ramlila Maidan speech.

And now, the other speeches of Amit Shah that I referenced earlier.

  • Raiganj, 11 April 2019: In our manifesto, we have promised that we will introduce the NRC in Bengal just like in Assam. I want to tell Mamata Di to try and stop us with all her might, but Modi will implement NRC nonetheless.
  • At Kolkata, 22 April 2019: Understand the chronology. First, the CAB will be brought in. After CAB, then NRC will be done. NRC will not be just for Bengal, it will be for the whole country. Infiltrators are a problem for the nation.
  • At Kolkata, 1 October 2019: The BJP government will bring in the Citizenship Amendment Bill before the NRC.

Finally, this is what BJP’s manifesto for the 2019 election said:
“We will expeditiously complete the National Register of Citizens process in these areas on priority. In future, we will implement the NRC in a phased manner in other parts of the country.”

This is what BJP’s manifesto for the 2019 election said.
This is what BJP’s manifesto for the 2019 election said.
(Photo Courtesy: Screenshot/BJP manifesto)

Modi’s Attempt to Dissuade Anti-NRC Protests?

So to the Prime Minister, I ask – why are Union Ministers repeatedly speaking about a nationwide NRC at every chance they get if it isn’t something on the radar of the government run by those same ministers?

Second, is the claim that the government has never spoken about the NRC indicative of a genuine change of mind on the NRC? Or is the government deliberately sending out mixed signals to put the brakes on a growing people’s movement against the CAA-NRC combine?

Possibly, the BJP has been daunted by the sight of the massive protests across the country. Or by the fact that as many as nine non-BJP Chief Ministers have publicly opposed the NRC, saying they will not implement it in their states.

Look at the political diversity of the states who have announced their opposition – there are those you’d expect, from TMC-led Bengal to Congress-led Rajasthan. But days after supporting CAA, even Odisha’s BJD said it is against NRC – as did JDU’s Nitish Kumar, BJP’s ally in Bihar, and the LJP as well.

But whether this is the good cop-bad cop routine or a real change in position, my question is – does the Modi government not feel that it owes the people of this country an official, unambiguous position on a proposed initiative that could render millions stateless and without citizenship?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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