The planned updation of the National Population Register sparked a fresh political slugfest on Thursday with the Bharatiya Janata Party accusing the opposition of carrying out a false propaganda on the National Register of Citizens to malign the Modi government while the Congress alleged that the ruling party has a "sinister" agenda.
Rival political parties crossed swords even as the BJP sought to delink the updation of the NPR and the proposed NRC and no end in sight for the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Left parties, meanwhile, called for a seven-day nationwide protest from January 1 and a general strike on January 8 against the CAA, the NPR and the NRC.
Union home minister Amit Shah accused the opposition of creating confusion over the CAA and spoiling the atmosphere in the national capital by misleading the people.
Addressing an event organised by the Delhi Development Authority, Shah said it was time to defeat the "tukde tukde" gang. "Tukde-tukde" is a term coined by the right-wing parties to attack the opposition parties and those who support them.
"The opposition led by the Congress created confusion about the Citizenship Amendment Act. By misleading people on the CAA, the opposition spoiled the peaceful atmosphere of Delhi," Shah said on the recent anti-CAA protests, some of which turned violent in areas like the Jamia Millia University, Seelampur and Daryaganj.
BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said neither the CAA nor the NPR has any link with the NRC and alleged that the Opposition is carrying out a false propaganda to malign the Modi government.
The Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared the proposal for updating the NPR. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars of every resident in the country.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, have alleged that the NPR is the first step of the NRC.
"The prime minister has made it clear that there is no link between the CAA or the NPR and the NRC. It is premature to discuss what will happen when NRC comes... so far, there has been no discussion on the NRC," Madhav told reporters in Srinagar.
Madhav said a false propaganda has been unleashed by the opposition parties to malign the the Centre as they have no issues to raise.
"NPR is a routine exercise which was first started by the UPA government in 2010 but had to be reviewed in 2015 as the first exercise was not extensive. NPR is an extension of the Census which will be next held in 2021," he said.
Madhav said the government needs to update its data so that the benefits of its policies reach the intended beneficiaries.
As Madhav reiterated his party's position, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram alleged that the NPR approved by the BJP government was different and dangerous in terms of the "text and context" of the data collection done in 2010.
Charging that the BJP government has a "sinister agenda", he said if the BJP's motives are bonafide, the Government should unconditionally state that they support the NPR form and design of 2010 and do not intend to link it to the controversial NRC.
"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.
"If the BJP's motives are bonafide, 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," he said on Twitter.
Chidambaram also said he is happy that the BJP has released a video clip of the launch of NPR in 2010.
"Please listen to the video. We were enumerating the "usual residents" of the country. The emphasis is on residency not citizenship," he said.
Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken accused the BJP government of bringing the NRC in the garb of the NPR and claimed that questions relating to the former will be asked in the pre-test forms for the population register.