CAA must be put in abeyance; NRC scrapped: Chidambaram

CAA must be put in abeyance; NRC scrapped: Chidambaram

Rejecting suggestions that Narendra Modi’s statement on NRC was an indication of a climbdown, the Congress on Monday said the "real change of heart" will be visible only when the Prime Minister makes a “formal announcement” that the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be put in abeyance and the NRC scrapped.

Senior party leader and former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram described Modi’s statement as "lies" and said that there was no discussion on National Registry of Citizens (NRC) since he took over in 2014 and accused the Prime Minister of “covering up” for the statements of Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Describing NRC as a “flawed exercise and scheme”, Chidambaram said the Congress will not allow turning India into Germany. “Just like the Jews were targeted in Germany, attempts are being made to attack the Muslims in India. There are attempts to alienate the Muslim community…The CAA is against the Constitution of India as it changes the fundamental nature of citizenship from territoriality to religion,” he told a press conference at the TNCC headquarters here.

Contending that the country faces far more serious problems that needed “urgent attention” of the government, Chidambaram sought to know what the need was to focus on legislation that seeks to divide the society on religious lines.

On Modi’s statement at a rally in Delhi that NRC was never discussed by his government, Chidambaram said the Prime Minister was trying to hide a “well-known truth” as the implementation of NRC was part of BJP’s manifesto and his ministers have spoken about the exercise every now and then.

"I don't think Narendra Modi has had a change of heart. He is trying to cover up the statements of his Home Minister, Defence Minister and other ministers. I don't there's a real change of heart. I think the real change of heart will be visible when he makes a formal statement that the CAA will be kept in abeyance or suspension and that the NRC exercise is abandoned," Chidambaram said.

He added that the Modi government should bring all political parties together for a dialogue on the CAA and NRC. The former Minister was replying to a question of whether Modi’s statement on NRC can be taken as a “climbdown or change of heart.”  

To a question of whether he would disobey the government if at all NRC is implemented by not showing his documents, Chidambaram quipped: “I was asking my family whether my SSLC certificate was available. Let me first find out my documents.”