Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that stakeholders will be consulted “as and when” the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process will start, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) had nothing to do with that process.
She was speaking to the newswire Asian News International (ANI), at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters. She added that she was “surprised” that “responsible political parties” were linking CAA to “something which hadn’t started yet.”
She also criticised West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her statement on Thursday asking for a third party or even UN monitored referendum on the NRC. Ms. Sitharaman said that she was “very surprised” at Ms. Banerjee’s statement. “Our country’s policy even in bilateral issues is to sort it out bilaterally without involving the UN or any third party, and here in a completely domestic matter the Chief Minister has asked for the UN. Does she have no faith in the institutions in India, Parliament and the Courts? In fact, in 2005, she had made a very passionate plea on behalf of the refugees from Bangladesh. She even went to the extent of throwing papers at the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, who was seated in the presiding officer’s chair at that time, as she felt injustice had been done to Bengal. Has she changed her position now? It is totally unacceptable for an elected Chief Minister to say that an international organisation like the UN should intervene in our domestic affairs. It is utterly irresponsible of her to say this and I condemn it,” she said.
Meanwhile, the BJP’s working president J. P. Nadda will be addressing an “ abhinandan rally” (felicitation rally) in Kolkata December 23 over the passage of the CAA in Parliament, signalling that neither the party nor the government was back pedalling on the issue despite protests.
Speaking to The Hindu , Rahul Sinha, national secretary of the BJP, confirmed that Mr. Nadda will be in West Bengal on Monday. “Nadda ji will be addressing a meeting at Rani Rashomoni Road in Kolkata on Monday, after which he, along with those at the public meeting, will walk 4-5 kilometres till Swami Vivekananda’s house in the city,” he said.
On Thursday, Mr. Nadda had also declared that the BJP-led government was committed to implementing the CAA, when he met with refugee groups who are likely to be granted citizenship under the new Act.