Oppn latches onto letter to allege NRC began in Bihar

Opposition latches onto misprinted letter to allege NRC has begun in Bihar

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav. (PTI Photo)

A bizarre drama unfolded in Bihar on Friday when opposition parties, including the RJD, accused the Nitish Kumar government of having started the work on the National Register of Citizens based on a letter that had a printing error and was immediately withdrawn.

RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, leader of the opposition in the assembly, and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha tweeted photographs of a three-day-old missive which, the state government pointed out, was promptly withdrawn and a corrigendum issued.

Issued on January 28 by the Block Development Officer of Mokamah in rural Patna, the letter was issued to principals of government schools who had failed to send names of two teachers from their institutions, by January 23, for training for the ongoing census exercise.

The letter made a mention of personal details of the teachers being required for “NRC” and the principals were rebuked for “apparently being opposed to NRC at the instance of some specific political party”.

Sharing a screenshot of the letter on his Twitter handle, Yadav, who served as Bihar deputy CM for more than a year, said, "White lie of Nitish Kumar caught. Now you all have to decide who the real Sanghi is".

Kushwaha wrote, "@NitishKumar ji, you left even the BJP behind. PM @narendramodi says NRC has not even been discussed and you got orders passed. And you have the temerity to accuse school principals of collusion with a political party?"

In a statement issued subsequently, Kushwaha – the Union minister of state for HRD in NDA-1 till December 2018 – took a strong exception to the tone of the letter and alleged "it befitted a political functionary more than a government functionary, who is supposed to be neutral”.

Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha circulated a message on WhatsApp underscoring its founding president had “exposed” the matter three days ago.

State minister for Information and Public Relations Department Neeraj Kumar, who belongs to the JD(U) headed by the Bihar chief minister, told PTI, "The opposition leaders would have done better by sharing the corrigendum issued by the Mokama BDO the very next day, whereby the earlier letter had been cancelled”.

“That the chief minister feels there is no need for NRC in the state needs no reiteration. Further, in the light of the averments by the Prime Minister, it is obvious that the reality of this issue is not lost on the opposition leaders, though if they want to enjoy themselves, it is their choice”, the minister said.

The BJP, which is a part of the ruling dispensation, came out with an angry statement charging the opposition leaders with display of “political frivolity”.

In a statement, state BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand said “it was a printing error which the official concerned got duly rectified. We are bewildered to see the opposition leaders behaving like novices with no administrative experience, though all of them have held important offices in the past”.