Stick to old format of NPR, do not add new questions: Nitish Kumar tells Centre
Patna, Jan 28: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said his JD(U) will urge the BJP government at the Centre to drop columns pertaining to birth places of parents in the National Population Register form, since it has led to "apprehensions" among many who were not aware of the details.
Kumar, who is the JD(U)'s national president and has been running a coalition government in the state with the BJP, said leaders of his party "in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha" will make a request to the government to this effect "even though it is not mandatory to fill up these columns".
The chief minister was talking to reporters at his official residence here after presiding over a meeting of JD (U) parliamentarians, legislators and office-bearers of the party's Bihar unit, even though disgruntled top leaders like national vice president Prashant Kishor and national general secretary Pavan Varma remained conspicuous by their absence.
Kumar also acknowledged that the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act had led to "unrest" across the country but hoped the misgivings would be addressed by the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions challenging the contentious legislation.
He, however, voiced disapproval of the inflammatory comments made by Sharjeel Imam, who was arrested in Jehanabad in connection with a sedition case in Delhi, and pointed out "whoever transgresses law, will face action accordingly.
Talks of disintegration of the country are never acceptable". "It is the job of the police to help law enforcement agencies elsewhere in their investigation. The local police (in Jehanabad) has therefore been helping the Delhi police. Whoever commits wrong in the eyes of the law will face arrest and tried before a court of law," Kumar insisted.
He also stated that unrest over the contentious legislation had been going on for quite some time and there was now a need for "normalising the situation".
In an apparent reference to many state governments coming out with resolutions in respective legislatures against the CAA, Kumar - whose party had voted in favor of the Bill when it was tabled in Parliament - pointed out "the matter comes under the jurisdiction of the Centre.
Only the Supreme Court can take any action to address the issues." Iterating his opposition to nationwide NRC, the Bihar CM noted with satisfaction "the prime minister, too, has clarified that such a move is not in the offing".
"As regards NPR, it must be kept in mind that the exercise has been conducted previously. Of course, there are misgivings about columns asking people to disclose the places of birth of their parents since most citizens might not be aware of the same.
"Our leaders in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will urge (the government) to drop these columns, if possible," he said.
Kumar parried questions about disgruntled leaders like Varma, whom the CM has rebuffed after he went public with a letter sharing details of conversation they allegedly had "in private" about the BJP, and Prashant Kishor, who has been rankling the saffron party with his acerbic tweets against CAA-NPR-NRC.
When asked if Kishor's collaboration with Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, where JD(U) is also contesting in alliance with the BJP, would affect the NDA, Kumar came out with a cryptic reply.
"He has links with many people. I have said it earlier, we inducted him into the party at the instance of Amit Shah," Kumar said as a parting note at the press meet.
Earlier, JD(U) state president Vashishtha Narayan Singh, a Rajya Sabha member, said that the party "does not attach any value" to those defying its policies when asked about their absence though he also clarified "it is a meeting of state leaders convened by the national president".
At the press conference, Nitish Kumar also hinted that more such pep talks with grassroots-level workers of the party were likely in near future. Assembly polls in Bihar are due in less than a year.
Kumar is expected to lead the NDA charge and make a bid for his fourth consecutive term as chief minister.