Millions of people in Assam on Sunday lived through the “the stroke of midnight”, to use Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s immortal words, as the Assam government published the first draft of an updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) of the State. While the document is meant to establish the credentials of a bona fide citizen, there are several questions surrounding the NRC. Here is a brief list of FAQs on the NRC.Why was it necessary to bring out an NRC in Assam?The NRC is being updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals, who may have illegally entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971, the cut-off date. This date was originally agreed to in the 1985 Assam Accord, signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).However, successive State governments failed to achieve much progress in detecting and deporting foreigners as set out in the Assam Accord. In 2005, another agreement was signed between the Centre, the then Tarun Gogoi government in Assam and the AASU where it was decided to update the NRC that was first published after the Census data of 1951 in post-Partition India.Though the Gogoi government had started the NRC update as a pilot project in some districts, it was stopped after violence broke out in some parts of the State.In July 2009, Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO, petitioned the Supreme Court for identification of Bangladeshi foreigners in the State and deletion of their names from the voters’ list.What will happen to those persons who don’t find their names in the draft register published on Monday?The list published on Monday is the first draft of the updated NRC. Another list is expected by February-end or early March, with more names and details.However, if a citizen’s name is missing, he or she can file an objection and request that the name be included after submitting the requisite documents to the NRC centre or online on the website www.nrcassam. nic.inIs there a possibility of violence in the State if a large number of people don’t find their names in the register?The Assam government did fear violence and hence requisitioned over 20,000 paramilitary personnel and requested the Army to be on standby to deal with any law-and-order issue.However, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said people, irrespective of their caste or religion, had taken part in the process and expressed confidence that the NRC update will not result in violence.The security challenge, however, will emerge only when the process of updating the NRC gets completed and a large number of people are left out.Is the NRC a court-mandated exercise?Yes, the publication of the first draft of the NRC by December 31, 2017 was ordered by the Supreme Court.The top court has been hearing this case since July 2009 when Assam Public Works moved court to intervene in detecting and deporting Bangladeshis.Should persons of Assam living in other parts of the country also have their names in the register?NRC is a process by which a bona fide Indian citizen can be distinguished from a foreigner.If a person from Assam is living or working in another part of the country, it is advisable to get oneself registered and establish one’s legacy as an “inhabitant” of Assam.
The growth of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the cost of the Left Front and the Congress continues unabated in West Bengal. While TMC’s seat share went up to 66% in the 2018 Bengal panchayat elections from 52% in 2013, the BJP’s share grew by 17% at the Gram Panchayat (GP) level in the three-tier rural polls. The seat share at the GP level provides a very clear picture of the political scene in rural Bengal where 74% of the State’s electorate reside. A similar trend was noticed in nearly all the recent elections and by-polls.The saffron party got a little over 1% seats in 2013 at the GP level. In this week’s panchayat elections, the BJP bagged more than 18% seats in an election process marred by violence. Even after the Opposition could not field a candidate in about one-third of the seats, the BJP’s vote share increased significantly. On the other hand, the Left Front’s seat share dropped noticeably.The Left Front got marginally over 32% seats in the panchayat polls of 2013 at the GP level, which was nearly a 20% drop from that in 2008. In 2018, the seat share has reached its nadir. The Left Front got 5% seats, according to the data released by the State Election Commission [SEC] on Friday night. The Congress’s seat share has come down to 3% from 11%.Infact, the seat share of the Independent candidates was more than the Left Front or the Congress at the GP level. The reason, as it appeared on Friday, is that the Independent candidates, who belong to the one or the other factions of the ruling party in most of the cases, have won in many seats defeating the “official” TMC candidate. Realising that many of the Independent candidates are affiliated to the TMC, party chief Mamata Banerjee indicated on Thursday that they will eventually be brought back to the party fold. However, Independent candidates defeating the Left and the Congress has been described as “a unique development” in Bengal politics.While BJP got 12% and 3.5% seats at the Panchayat Samity (PS) and Zilla Parishad (ZP) level respectively, the Left Front got 2% and less than 1% at the PS and ZP levels. The Congress, too, has nearly been decimated at PS and ZP level.