New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday said the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was “its baby” as it accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “befooling” people by politicising the exercise.
At the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party asserted that it would stand with every Indian citizen who had been left out of the draft list.
“The NRC is the baby of the Congress party,” chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
At the meeting, it was discussed that the NRC was a consequence of the Assam Accord signed by former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985, to which the party is committed.
The Congress also accused the BJP of politicising the issue for electoral gains and to deflect public attention from government's "failures", including bank scams.
The party cited figures provided by the government in Parliament, claiming that while Modi government in last four years deported only 1,822 foreign nations, the Congress-led UPA government had deported 82,728 foreigners (Bangladeshis) between 2005 and 2013.
Surjewala said the NRC process was initiated by the party and after preparing elaborate framework, it put in place modalities, identifying and affixing processes and building a consensus among the stakeholders.
He said the previous Congress governments in Assam and at the Centre had initiated the NRC process in 2005 to identify the foreigners, who had illegally entered India.
Surjewala said the Congress government in 2009 headed by Manmohan Singh sanctioned Rs 489 crore and proceeded to appoint 25,000 enumerators for the NRC process.
It was the Congress government of Assam, headed by Tarun Gogoi, he said, which completed 80 per cent of NRC process by May 2016, and the exercise is being monitored by the Supreme Court since August 2014.
“The Congress party will ensure that no Indian citizens is deprived of his legitimate right. The Congress stands committed to help and assist every Indian Citizen in this endeavour,” he said.
To a question on BJP’s Amit Shah making NRC a poll issue in Rajasthan, he said "fake jumlas (rhetoric), empty steam and a divisive mindset is in the DNA of Shah" and asked him to stop "lying" on deportation of foreigners.
“Amit Shah should now apologise to the nation for manufacturing lies and misleading the country purely for political vote garnering in a sinister fashion," he said.
Responding to another question, he accused the BJP and the Modi government of “duplicity, deception and double speak” and dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to clarify their stance on Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016.
“The CWC noted with grave concern the deliberate and diabolic agenda of the BJP to play politics to use NRC as a divisive and emotional tool for misleading the people. This is being done to deflect nation's attention from the colossal failures, mega scams like Rafale, bank frauds and others as also betrayal of people by the Modi Government on various promises,” he added.
Surjewala said the CWC called upon Congress leaders and workers, both in Assam and in the rest of the country, to “expose the acts of omission and commission being committed by Modi government and not allow the government to escape accountability”.
Reacting to the CWC meeting, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra termed it a “corruption wali committee” and said “every act of corruption in India is linked to the party and it was paddling lies and misleading people against the government”.
“The Congress has hard connection with corruption. Wherever corruption happens in India, it goes to 10 Janpath. 10 Janpath is the permanent address of corruption in India and every act of corruption leads to the Gandhi family,” he said. 10 Janpath is the official residence of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
The ruling party also dismissed allegation about irregularities committed by the Modi government in fixing prices of the Rafale fighter jets, saying the Congress was spreading untruth on the issue as it is “frustrated” over the absence of any middlemen in the deal.
“He (Rahul Gandhi) told Parliament that French president said something in his ears. Within hours the French government issued a statement exposing his lies. Can there be anything more humiliating than this. He was criticised the world over and it happened for the first time that another country had to intervene...and issue a letter. But Rahul is carrying on with his lies,” Patra said.
Patra also accused the Congress of playing vote bank politics on the controversy surrounding the NRC and said the party was only interested in having a “national register of illegal immigrants”.
Seeking to expose the party’s hypocrisy on the issue, he said while the Congress did not allow BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP Amit Shah to speak on the issue in the Upper House, they were deliberating upon it in the CWC meeting.
The CWC meet, chaired by party president Rahul Gandhi, was attended by top party leaders, including former PM Manmohan Singh, AK Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel and Ashok Gehlot. However, former party president Sonia Gandhi was unable to attend it.
(With PTI inputs)