The BJP chief also sought to know whether the Congress wanted to protect the “illegal Bangldeshis”.
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Tuesday hit out at the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance governments charging the Congress with not having the courage to identify illegal migrants in Assam, an exercise which was to be conducted as part of the accord signed by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985.
He sought to know whether the Congress wanted to protect the “illegal Bangldeshis” in the eastern state.
Participating in a discussion on the issue of National Register of Citizens in Assam in the Rajya Sabha, Shah said the exercise was conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
The Rajya Sabha had taken up the discussion by doing away with the Question Hour, but the debate was disrupted due to vociferous protests by Trinamool Congress, Congress and some other parties which finally led Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to adjourn the House for the day.
“NRC is being conducted on the SC order. There are 40 lakh people (missing in the list) ... Whom do you want to save? You want to save illegal Bangaldesis,” the BJP chief asked.
He noted that the NRC was the spirit of the 1985 Assam Accord which sought to identify illegal migrants into Assam and prepare a list of Indian citizens.
Shah said former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had signed the Assam Accord on August 14, 1985 after the movement in the state went out of control leading to death of some protesters.
“This was the Congress PM’s initiative. He (Rajiv Gandhi) did not have the courage. We have courage and we are doing it,” he informed the House.
Shah’s remarks provoked noisy protests by the Opposition members led by those from the Congress and the TMC. The House was adjourned for about 10 minutes and then for the day.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh was present in the House but could not reply due to the noisy protests.
'Opposition sees vote bank in NRC, for BJP it's national security'
Later in the day, addressing a press conference, Shah asked opposition parties to take a clear stand on the issue and not indulge in vote bank politics, asserting that NRC will be implemented 'to the last full stop' as his party stands for national security and Indians' rights.
Dismissing criticism by parties like the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, Shah told that the process for NRC, whose mandate is to identify illegal immigrants, was started in 2005, when the UPA was in power, but the government lacked the courage 'to throw out illegal Bangladeshis'.
"It (NRC) will be implemented to the last full stop and comma," he said.
Taking on West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has accused the BJP of pursuing a 'divide and rule' policy, Shah alleged that she saw a "vote bank" in illegal immigrants while his party was looking at the security of the country and rights of its citizens.
No Indian citizen should be concerned and natives of any other state living in Assam would not be touched, he said, adding, NRC must be implemented firmly and fairly.
The BJP has seized on the issue that resonates with its broader agenda of nationalism and Hindutva to corner opposition parties in the election year, with Shah pitching the party as one standing for rights of Indians as opposed to its rivals who are concerned with the rights of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.
"The BJP is committed to the national security and safety of its citizens. This is our top priority. All other parties should clear their stand," he said.
"I want to ask the Congress why you are questioning the NRC for vote bank. The Congress started the NRC process in 2005. But you lacked the courage to throw out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants because vote bank was important for you, not national security and rights of citizens," he said.
It is a matter of 'grave sorrow' that no party apart from the BJP found it fit to say that illegal immigrants have no place in this country.
The BJP is not doing politics over it and its stand has been consistent on the issue whether in power or in opposition, he said.
The Congress has a habit of changing its stand, he alleged and took a dig at its president Rahul Gandhi, asking him to remember his grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi's statements that illegal immigrants have no place in India.
Asked about human rights concerns raised by some parties and rights bodies, he said he is concerned about the rights of India citizens whose resources were being grabbed by illegal immigrants.
He also condemned Banerjee for her warning that there could be civil war and bloodbath, saying the country was divided once in the name of civil war.
"She should clarify what kind of civil war she is talking about," he said.
Asked about a demand of West Bengal BJP leaders for an NRC in the state, Shah said the NRC is presently confined to Assam and the party will take a stand on such issues at an appropriate time.