Janata Dal (United) vice-president and political strategist Prashant Kishor has said it is only Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who can tell under what circumstances they supported the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in parliament earlier this month.
JDU president Nitish Kumar is yet to clear his stand on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue, but his second-in command has expressed displeasure after his party supported its ally BJP on the bill and got it passed in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Mr Kishor also met Nitish Kumar on the issue. Reports have said Mr Kishor even offered to resign, but his resignation was rejected.
Calling the citizenship law "discriminatory", Mr Kishor said the JDU has opposed it at every level. "I want to make it very clear that the JDU's stance on the NRC and Citizenship (Amendment) Act is of opposition. Check parliamentary standing committee's record, the first dissent note is of JDU. About the support in both houses, under what circumstance and how the JDU supported the bill, only Nitish Kumar can tell," Mr Kishor added.
"We believe the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is discriminatory... When you link it with the NRC, it becomes discriminatory not only on the basis of religion but also on the basis of class," he said.
He said the NRC should not happen at all. "When NRC happens, crores of people, especially the poor if they could not produce documents, will face hardship to prove that they and their forefathers are citizens of this country. They will face loss of income and logistical challenges. This will be a big problem for the poor. So the NRC should not happen at all and this has been JDU's stance," he added.
Nitish Kumar has announced that there will be no NRC, Mr Kishor said, adding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is not consistent with the provisions in the Constitution.
"In the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, you are using religion and giving citizenship due to which people from some religion may feel that they are facing discrimination. That itself is a big issue and it should be opposed, but when you link it with NRC then it becomes even more pervasive," he said.
Mr Kishore, who is one of the founder members of political strategy firm Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC), said working with the JDU and advising IPAC is not an ideal situation, but it has no conflict of interest.
"There are two things - I am not in the government of Bihar and as far as my other work is concerned. It is in public domain that IPAC is an organisation which was started a few years ago. They work with different political parties. IPAC is not my personal property. This a platform for youngsters which provides an opportunity to work with political campaigns and leaders without joining political party," he added.