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The Leader of Opposition in the Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, on Wednesday lashed out at BJP president Amit Shah for his statement in the Rajya Sabha that all the 40 lakh people left out of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam are “infiltrators”.

Stating that Shah had made a false assertion in the House by terming all 40 lakh people as infiltrators, Saikia urged all members of the Rajya Sabha to bring a Breach of Privilege motion against the Bharatiya Janata Party president.

Saikia said that Shah deliberately ignored widespread reports about the final draft of the NRC not containing the names of the descendants and relatives of 19th century freedom fighter Bahadur Gaonburah, former president of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, first deputy speaker of the Assam Legislative Assembly (1937-1946) Maulavi Muhammad Amiruddin, freedom fighters Pramod Bhattacharjee, Dibesh Purkayastha and Gauri Shankar Roy, and a host of other famous personalities of the state.

Saikia said that Shah was wrong in accusing the Congress of lacking the courage to complete the NRC because the genesis of the NRC process lay in the Assam Accord which was masterminded by Rajiv Gandhi in 1985, and was followed by the signing of a tripartite agreement in 2005 when the Congress was in power both at the Centre and the state.

“In fact, the government headed by prime minister Manmohan Singh had released Rs 489 crore in 2013 and 80 per cent of the NRC work was already complete when the BJP-led alliance came to power in Assam in 2016,” the Congress leader said.

“On the other hand, the then NDA government had released a meagre amount of Rs 5 lakh for NRC work in 1999 out of a promised sum of Rs 20 lakh, and the BJP’s present ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which was in power in the state at the time, had failed to put even that to any use,” Saikia said.

Saikia said that Shah should change his one-track divisive mentality and take into account the fact that the 40 lakh names in question include a huge number of Indian nationals from states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, who have been residing in Assam due to marital ties or for remunerative occupation.

In this context, the Congress leader said that it was negligence and failure of coordination on the part of the central government that resulted in many of the relevant states not responding to verification requests sent by the state NRC authority in connection with those residents of Assam who had come here from other parts of India.

He also termed West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s allegation about NRC as uncalled for and said that no political party or social organisation of the state would approve of such a divisive stance.

He urged Banerjee to admit her mistake and apologise to the people of Assam.

“Instead of wasting her energies in fomenting distrust and division, Banerjee should ensure that the verification documents of reportedly more than five lakh people, which are gathering dust in various offices of the West Bengal government, are duly processed and sent back to the state NRC authority,” Saikia added.

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