Kolkata, December 17: Veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi on Monday accused the BJP of "playing a divisive game" in Assam and said as per the Assam Accord the names of every Indian whose name was in the voter list should be in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
He said as per the accord the cut-off date to be eligible for Indian citizenship was March 24, 1971 but many of whose name did not figure in the citizens register in Assam came before that period. Bangladesh Reacts to Assam NRC List: Says Calling 40 Lakh People Bangladeshis Not Correct.
Gogoi, the former chief minister of Assam, said of the 40 lakh persons whose names did not figure in the complete draft of NRC published on July 30 more than 30 lakh were Hindus and a large number were Bengalis.
Accusing the ruling BJP of playing "a divisive game of pitting Hindus, Muslims, Assamese and Bengalis against each other" in Assam, Gogoi told reporters, "The way they have prepared, (the NRC draft list) they are depriving genuine Indians citizenship."
Asserting that the Congress will return to power in the 2021 assembly election in his state, Gogoi said he will then ensure that genuine Indian citizens, whose names figured in the voter list, were not stripped of their rights.
"Suppose your name is not in the NRC, but is in the voter list, then which one is valid? That your name is in the voter list is proof of your Indian citizenship. Only an Indian citizen can be a genuine voter," the Congress leader said.
Asserting that names of people or their descendants whose names appeared in the NRC 1951, or in any of the electoral rolls upto March 24, 1971 cannot be left out, Gogoi said, "Please don't project the recent developments over NRC as the fight between Bengalis and Assamese."
"The way they (BJP government) are going for it shows that while the intention as envisaged in the Assam Accord was right, the way it is being implemented is wrong," Gogoi, who was here to attend a debate on the issue of NRC by 'Molded and Minority Development Council' said.
Asked about the demand of BJP in West Bengal that NRC exercise be carried out in the state, Gogoi said, "Why should I comment on whether NRC should be carried out in your state (Bengal)? That will be decided by the people of Bengal."
He said BJP leaders like Amit Shah were creating "all sorts of confusion".
Gogoi said despite provocations from some quarters people of all communities were living peacefully and in harmony in Assam and both Assamese and Bengali were being spoken by respective linguistic communities in the state.
As Gogoi was leaving the venue, representatives of two fringe outfits 'Amra Bangla' and 'Banglapaksha', screamingly asked Gogoi to speak on the recent killing of five persons in Tinsukia."
Gogoi responded saying he was no more the Assam chief minister and so could not reply. On November 1, five Bengali-speaking people, including three of a family were gunned down in Tinsukia by six assailants. While the Assam police had maintained that it was the handiwork of the proscribed ULFA(I), the outfit had denied it.
Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad said there was a sinister political gameplan "to keep us divided and bring out the worst in us." "Don't make it an Bengali-Assamese issue," she said.