UPA-era NPR’s emphasis was on ‘residency’, not ‘citizenship’: Chidambaram

Congress senior leader and Former Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram addressing a press conference at AICC HQ, in New Delhi on December 05, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Former Union Home Minister and Congress MP P. Chidambaram has asserted that the emphasis of the National Population Register (NPR) in 2010 by the UPA government was on “residency” and not “citizenship”.

The BJP on Wednesday released a video clip of the launch of the NPR in 2010, where Mr. Chidambaram says an exercise like this has not been attempted anywhere in the world.

He sought to highlight the differences in the UPA-era NPR and the present version through a series of tweets.

“We were enumerating the ‘usual residents’ of the country. The emphasis is on residency not citizenship,” The NPR was to aid the preparation of the 2011 census, he stated. “Every usual resident was to be enumerated irrespective of his or her religion or place of birth.”

Watch | What's all about NPR?

The most important difference between the two was that there was no mention of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the UPA-era exercise. “The BJP-led government has a larger and more sinister agenda and that is why the NPR approved by them yesterday is very dangerous and different in terms of the TEXT as well as the CONTEXT of NPR 2010,” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram dared the BJP government to unequivocally say that they had no intention to link the NRC with the NPR. He said, “If the BJP’s motives are bona fide, let the government unconditionally state that they support the NPR form and design of 2010 and have no intention of linking it to the controversial NRC.”

Exercise first started in 2003: Maken 

At a press conference held in the Congress headquarters, Ajay Maken, who was the Minister of State in Home Affairs in charge of the NPR, said the exercise was first started in 2003 by the first NDA government under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Twelve States and a Union Territory, with a total population of 31 lakh persons, were picked for a pilot project. When the UPA came to power, the pilot project was on. The idea was finally shelved on the advice of a committee of secretaries.

Mr. Maken said the fundamental difference between the NPR and the NRC was that the population register was only to enumerate “usual residents”, which was defined by the United Nations as anyone who had been living the majority of days, which was a little over six months, at the place of enumeration.

He asserted that the UPA-era NPR would not have led to the NRC unlike what the present government wanted to do. “I am saying again and again that following the NRC is a second step, which we never intended to take,” he said. The 2003 amendment to the Citizenship Act said that the government “may” compulsorily register all citizens. “We never converted into ‘shall’ and we will never convert it into ‘shall’ because we know the complexities,” he added.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 2:57:51 PM |

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