West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today termed the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in neighbouring Assam as a "fiasco", claiming that it was carried out by the BJP government in the state with an ulterior motive in mind.
"The NRC fiasco has exposed all those who tried to get political mileage out of it. They have a lot to answer to the nation. This is what happens when an act is guided by an ulterior motive rather than the good of the society and the larger interest of the nation," she tweeted, adding that her sympathies lie with those who ended up suffering due to the "botched-up" process.
Over 19 lakh people were left out of the NRC list published on Saturday morning, and they are now required to prove their citizenship in order to avoid government action. The exercise, which has been going on years now, was aimed at weeding out illegal migrants who have settled down in the state over the course of decades.
The Trinamool Congress, one of the most voracious critics of the NRC, has often taken the centre to task for what it terms as a "divisive exercise". The BJP, on the other hand, has promised to implement the exercise in West Bengal if it is voted to power there.
Another Trinamool Congress leader, Firhad Hakim, said that the centre will have to take responsibility for the 19 lakh applicants who failed to make it to the final NRC list. "People have been rendered homeless in their own country," he said.
Mr Hakim termed the NRC exercise as a plot to drive Bengalis out of Assam. "How can the government be so insensitive that on one fine morning, it is declaring citizens who have been living in Assam for last several decades as foreigners?" he questioned.
However, the Trinamool Congress is not the only party that's unhappy with the NRC. While the BJP wants reverification in many areas of Assam, especially districts bordering Bangladesh, the Congress claims that many genuine citizens were left out of the list published today. "The BJP supports the NRC exercise, but we feel that there are certain lacunae that should have been plugged. The centre and the Assam government have requested the Supreme Court to allow 20 per cent reverification in districts that border Assam and 10 per cent in others," BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma told NDTV, adding that the "war" was far from over.
Tarun Gogoi, who headed the previous Congress government in Assam, said his party will not allow the BJP to "communalise" the NRC exercise. "If the BJP is crying (foul), whose responsibility is it? It's the BJP government in the state that has prepared this list. Our position is clear: It doesn't matter if the person is Hindu or Muslim... any individual who's a foreigner should not be included," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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