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'Only Citizens Can Participate in Polls': Election Commission Seeks Clarity on Assam NRC Draft

When Registrar General of India Sailesh was asked if those excluded from the NRC draft will be allowed to vote, he said the poll process is handled by a different authority.


Updated:July 31, 2018, 3:03 PM IST

The Election Commission of India has sought a detailed report from the Chief Electoral Officer of Assam on the draft National Register of Citizens published on Monday.

Speaking to News18 on Tuesday, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said that the state government officials have been asked to furnish a report on the issue within 7 to 10 days.

“Only those who are citizens of India are allowed to participate in any election. So those who are not in the NRC final report are not Indian citizens and hence in-eligible to vote,” Rawat said.

When Registrar General of India Sailesh was asked if those excluded from the NRC draft will be allowed to vote, he said the poll process is handled by a different authority.

The Supreme Court-monitored exercise to identify genuine Indian nationals living in Assam on Monday excluded over 40 lakh people from the final draft list, triggering a political slug fest with the opposition alleging that it was the BJP's “gameplan” to divide the people for electoral gains.

The NRC draft has also given rise to fears that stripping almost four million people of their citizenship could pave the way for one of the biggest humanitarion crisis in the world as it would create the world's largest stateless population.

The issue rocked both Houses of Parliament after which Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to the opposition not to politicise the "sensitive" matter as the list has been published on the directives of the Supreme Court and the Centre has "no role" in it.

He asserted that no "coercive" action will be taken against those whose names were excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft list.

The ruling BJP in Assam had raised the issue of foreign nationals in Assam during the 2016 Assembly polls, promising an error-free NRC.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at the Centre, accusing it of resorting to "vote bank politics". "This divide and rule policy will finish the country," she said at a press conference in Kolkata, alleging it was a "gameplan" to isolate and "throw out of the state" Bengali speaking people and Biharis.

Banerjee also claimed that names of people who have passports, Aadhaar and voter cards have also been excluded from the final draft.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi termed the move "tardy" and asked the government to "resolve the crisis". He said the move was initiated by former PM Manmohan Singh but the manner in which this exercise has been undertaken by the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state of Assam leaves much to be desired.

Notwithstanding the criticism, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said it was a historic day for the state, which will abide by all the directions of the apex court. Assam Pradesh Congress president Ripun Bora alleged it was a "motivated" action under the BJP which was trying to play "politics of polarisation".

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| Edited by: Mayur Borah
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