- BJP expects it to be a hit with voters in the election-bound Haryana
- Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda also spoke in favour of the move
- Manohar Lal Khattar did not elaborate on how and when it shall be done
Haryana will soon prepare a citizens' list along the lines of the recently published Assam National Register of Citizens or NRC, to check illegal immigration, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Sunday. Despite the huge political controversy over the Assam list -- which left out 19 lakh people -- the BJP expects the process to be a hit with voters in the election-bound Haryana, where joblessness has often been blamed on migrants.
"In Haryana we will implement NRC along the lines of Assam," Mr Khattar said in Haryana's Panchkula after meetings with former Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and a retired high court judge HS Bhalla where the issue was discussed.
The issue found rare bipartisan support as Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda spoke in favour of Mr Khattar. "What the Chief Minister has said is the law, foreigners have to leave, it is the responsibility of the government to identify them," Mr Hooda was quoted as saying news agency ANI.
The Chief Minister did not, however, elaborate on how and when it shall be done. Justice Bhalla, he said, is also working on NRC. "He will visit Assam soon. I said that we will implement NRC in Haryana and have sought Bhalla ji's support and suggestion," he said.
Mr Khattar's statement comes about a month ahead of the state assembly election, where the BJP government is seeking re-election. The state government has recently announced a slew of scheme to win over voters.
The Chief Minister's pitch for a citizens' list is in line what Home Minister Amit Shah has long called for - a nationwide exercise, similar to NRC to root out illegal immigrants, particularly from neighbouring Muslim-majority nations.
Recently, Mr Shah assured the Chief Ministers of the northeastern states at a meeting in Guwahati that the NRC would be taken across the country. "Not only Assam, we want the entire country to be cleansed of illegal migrants. We already have a plan ready. We will bring all states into confidence," he had said.
Even before the BJP's thumping victory in the national election earlier this year, Mr Shah had said that a re-elected BJP government would "run a countrywide campaign to send back the infiltrators", referring to them as "termites".
The contentious Assam list has also left the opposition, a chunk of residents and local leaders of the BJP unhappy. While the opposition accused the BJP of targetting Muslims, a section of BJP leaders in Assam expressed disappointment at the exclusion of a chunk of Bengali Hindus, who constitute 18 per cent of Assam's population and a majority of the party's vote bank.
The 19 lakh people excluded from the list now have to approach one of the 300 Foreign Tribunals within 120 days of the date of publication (August 31) to prove their citizenship. Those failing to prove their citizenship before these tribunals will be sent to detention camps, the first of which is being constructed in Assam's Goalpara, about 150 km from Guwahati.