PATNA – After the announcement of starting NRC process made by the Bihar government, chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said he was open to a debate on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the assembly, signaling, for the first time, his reservations on the controversial law that his party Janata Dal (United) supported in parliament. On the National Register of Citizenship (NRC), Nitish Kumar said that there was “no question” or need to implement it in Bihar.
While Nitish Kumar had ruled out the NRC in his state earlier, this is the first time he emphasized it in the state assembly, making it official.
The Chief Minister made the remarks after Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Left attacked the religion-based citizenship law in the special one-day session of the Bihar assembly called to ratify a quota measure.
“There should be a debate on CAA. If people want, then there will be a discussion in this house. As for NRC, there is no question of the NRC and no justification for it,” the Chief Minister said told the house.
Nitish Kumar’s comments mark a major climbdown after his support in parliament to the citizenship law, which has been at the core of nationwide protests by students, activists and political parties. His silence till now has been chalked up to alliance compulsions; he sees better prospects for the JDU in alliance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in the state election this year than with the RJD and Congress, which he dumped in 2017.
Kumar has been nudged to spell out a clear stand more than once by his number two in the party, poll strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor, who tweeted on Sunday that he would “like to reassure to all – CAA-NRC will not be implemented in Bihar.”
Last year, a section of the JDU had been openly upset at Kumar’s change of heart on the contentious citizenship law after he criticized it in a party forum and in press conferences.