Opposition parties protesting to hide their failures, says Anurag Singh Thakur

Kolkata, Jan 16 (PTI) BJP leader and Union minister Anurag Singh Thakur on Thursday claimed that opposition parties are protesting against the new citizenship law and nationwide NRC to hide their failures and to divert public attention.

He wondered why Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi is opposing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) when it was introduced by her husband Rajiv Gandhi during his prime ministership.

A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam was launched by the AASU and others in 1979. It had culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985, in the presence of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The NRC was first prepared in the Northeastern state in 1951 and the Accord stated, among other clauses, that foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall be expelled. In 2013, the Supreme Court directed the central and state governments to begin the process for updating NRC, and its final version was published last year.

Speaking to reporters in the city, Thakur said, 'I want to question the chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) and other ministers - can they show a word in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that says citizenship will be taken away?' Reacting to Mamata Banerjee government's decision not attend the National Population Register meeting in Delhi, he said instead of supporting the good works, she is coming on the streets for the corrupts.

'I want to question Soniaji, when the NRC was introduced by her husband, why is she opposing it. The UPA government started it in 2010-11,' Thakur said.

A pilot project of the NRC started in Chaygaon and Barpeta to update the NRC in 2010. The project was successful in Chaygaon but the project was shelved after four persons were killed in violence in Barpeta.

'Are they doing it just for the sake of opposition as it was implemented by Modiji when others failed? The opposition parties are trying to hide their failure behind the protests,' the Union minister of state for finance and corporate affairs said.

Thakur, who was here for a pre-budget meeting with chambers of commerce, claimed that the opposition parties are protesting to divert public attention.

'Is it prudent to keep our borders wide open for infiltrators and not offer citizenship to people who had taken shelter in India facing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh?' the minister said.

He said out of the 325 universities in the country, protests were held only in a handful of them and political parties are using students to serve their political interests.