Modi-Shah’s NRC flip-flop leaves Bengal BJP confused

Supporters and activists of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) take part in a rally against India's new citizenship law chained up and wearing masks of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C), Home Minister Amit Shah (L) and West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, in Siliguri on December 28, 2019. Photo/AFP

Contradictory statements made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on Nation Register of Citizens (NRC) seem to have totally confused the BJP leadership in West Bengal. Seeking to alter their stand over NRC to match that of the Modi-Shah duo, the state BJP leadership is contradicting itself over the issue.

A look at the remarks of state BJP president Dilip Ghosh on the NRC issue in the last couple of months makes this confusion clear. Earlier Ghosh said repeatedly that NRC will be conducted in Bengal to throw out infiltrators regardless of the Opposition by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government.

However, as the alleged suicides in Bengal due to panic over NRC began to draw public attention, Ghosh changed his stand. Ghosh in an exclusive interview with DH last month said that NRC was “no longer an issue” for BJP in Bengal and his party has never made it an issue.

He again changed his stand on NRC after the prime minister at a rally in Delhi last week said that the issue of pan-India NRC was never discussed since the BJP government came to power in 2014. However, Modi’s comment was preceded by a contradictory statement by Home Minister Amit Shah in parliament on December 9 when he said that NRC will be held across the country.

This again confused the state BJP leadership. Trying to keep up with the top brass of the party, they made two back-to-back mutually contradictory statements about NRC.

Describing the possibility of NRC in Bengal as an “issue of the future” Ghosh on December 25 toed the prime minister’s line by pointing out that the NRC in Assam was done on the basis of a Supreme Court order. He also put the ball in the Centre’s court saying that if a nationwide NRC is necessary then the Centre will take a call on it.

The state BJP chief again changed his stand on NRC on Thursday. He said NRC “should be” conducted in Bengal. However, Ghosh clarified that they are not saying that BJP will hold NRC in the state.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) will definitely seek to capitalise on BJP's flip-flop to corner it over the NRC issue. It remains to be seen whether the state BJP will be able to get a grip on the issue.

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