Only days after the Assam government hinted at legislative routes to accommodate the BJP's demand of reviewing the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC), Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal wants people to stay and calm and not panic. The final version of the NRC is due on August 31; the draft version, published in June, excluded 41 lakh people.
"I am sure that the people of the state will continue to extend cooperation after publication of the final NRC, as they did when the draft version was published. The unity, brotherhood and peace among communities will remain the same even after NRC," Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Thursday night.
On Monday the Chief Minister met Home Minister Amit Shah to review the NRC situation, after which he said the centre and state would "take whatever steps will be required" after the publication of the final list of the NRC.
The comment triggered a storm, with many reading it to understand that the BJP, in power at the centre and the state, may use the legislative (or ordinance) route to re-examine the list. It also reflects growing anxieties within the BJP that the final NRC may end up excluding large numbers from the majority community - the party's core vote bank.
After the meeting between Mr Shah and Chief Minister Sonowal, the Home Ministry released a statement that said exclusion from the NRC did not amount to being declared a foreigner. The appeal period for excluded individuals was also raised - from 60 days to 120 days.
The Supreme Court has thrice turned down pleas for NRC re-verification after the centre and state alleged "rampant misuse of legacy data" leading to inclusion of illegal migrants and exclusion of citizens.
"The state government and the centre are making every effort to ensure an error-free NRC. We have been extending cooperation to the Supreme Court in this whole process. The top court has been monitoring the updating of the NRC list since 2013," Mr Sonowal added on Thurday.
"If large amount(s) of illegal foreigners enter the NRC then what can we do? We have to think of correctional measures to weed out the illegals... we have a lot of respect for the Supreme Court and that is why the NRC is coming out on August 31," Bijon Mahajan, a party spokesperson, said.
Meanwhile, the Congress, the main opposition in Assam, has hit out at the BJP, with former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi accusing the party of turning the NRC into a "wastepaper" with which to appease its Hindu vote bank.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.