Prime Minister Narendra Modi today tore into the opposition in parliament for their protests against the citizenship law CAA and National Population Register (NPR) and accused parties of "taking a u-turn" for political reasons.
"Opposition leaders who were silent are now violent," he quipped on the aggressive protests against the CAA.
The census and NPR were "normal administrative processes" which had been carried out previously as well, but were being demonized now for vote-bank politics, said the Prime Minister.
"Those who carried out the NPR are now spreading misinformation. Biometric data was collected in 2010, we came in 2014...We have all the records. Why are you lying? Why are you fooling people," PM Modi said in Rajya Sabha, replying to a debate on the President's speech.
The Prime Minister tackled criticism of changes in the NPR questionnaire, like the language spoken by parents. "Don't mislead people, don't spread rumours. Changes are always made in governance," he said.
He cited the example of mother-tongue, saying the data was essential now more than before because migration between states was far more prevalent now as a result of development.
"It is important to know who is migrating from which district to cities. If anyone is migrating from Odisha to Gujarat, then schools can be set up in Gujarat for them based on the language data," he said.
"We have records of our NPR in 2010. You made records and collected data for NPR, we updated the records in 2015 and included those left out of schemes. We helped the poor using your NPR records. We want to update the NPR list so that the poor get more benefits. You brought NPR, now it is untouchable!"
PM Modi also hit back at the opposition on its criticism of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), going back into history and quoting leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri, BR Ambedkar and socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia.
Quoting these leaders as saying that Hindu minorities in Pakistan needed to be protected, the PM questioned: "Were these leaders communal?"
He also quoted from a Congress Working Committee resolution of 1947, just after independence, which said the Congress was bound to offer full protection to non-Muslims from Pakistan who had crossed the border. "Was Congress communal in 1947 and is secular now?"
Accusing the opposition of misleading people, he said, directly targeting Congress: "Today your world has changed. Never thought defeat would change you so much."