New Delhi, Aug 1: Asserting that the principal duty of any government is to defend its borders, prevent any trespass and make the life of the country's citizens safe and secure, Union Minister Arun Jaitley lashed out at both West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the stand they have taken on the NRC list issue.
Jaitley called Mamata Banerjee "fickle-minded", stating that in 2005 she had voiced her concerns about infiltration in Bengal when she was still a BJP ally.
"India's sovereignty is paying a heavy price because of the quality of its political discourse. Though Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi took a particular position in 1972 and 1985 for the deletion and deportation of foreigners, Rahul Gandhi takes a contrarian position and his party turns turtle. Similarly, the BJP ally of 2005, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, took a particular position. As a federal front leader, she now talks to the contrary. Can India's sovereignty be decided by such fickle minds and fragile hands?" Jaitley, who is on medical leave from his role as finance minister, wrote in a Facebook post titled 'National Register of Citizens - Sovereignty vs Vote Bank'.
He accused Rahul Gandhi and Banerjee of playing with India's sovereignty on the Assam NRC issue, saying citizens are the soul of the nation and not "imported vote banks".
Names of over 40 lakh people in Assam do not figure in the draft NRC, which is being prepared to identify illegal migrants in the state. The second draft of the NRC was published in Guwahati earlier this week. Opposition Congress and TMC has stalled the functioning of the Rajya Sabha for two days over the issue.
"A desperate argument has been given that this is a human rights cause. A refugee on account of persecution may have a humanitarian consideration. Illegal migration does not have it. There is not fundamental right to any person to do so," Jaitley said.
He said "historically, both Mrs Indira Gandhi and Mr Rajeev Gandhi, through the Congress Government that they headed, committed to this nation that post-March 25, 1971, migrants would be detected, identified and deported".
Jaitley further said that some pre-1971 migrants may have come to India for reasons of persecution, but the same is not true of all post-1971 migrants who have illegally entered the country.
The following is Jaitley's Facebook post on the NRC issue: