Senior state party leaders, however, admit that they don’t have the exact number of illegal immigrants in the state.
The issue of illegal immigrants and carrying out an Assam-type exercise to identify them is going to be one of the major poll planks for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Madhya Pradesh, where Assembly elections are due in less than four months from now.
According to senior state party leaders, including MPs, who spoke to The Sunday Guardian, the party was very strongly considering the possibility of including this issue in the election manifesto and take it to the voters. Though they admitted that they don’t have a concrete number of such illegal immigrants residing in the state, they said that it must be in lakhs.
Speaking to this newspaper, former RSS functionary Suryakant Kelkar, who is considered as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s mentor, said that the infiltration of Bangladeshi migrants is a major problem in Madhya Pradesh. Kelkar, who as per Chouhan’s own admission was the guiding light behind his joining politics, is the national convener of Bharat Raksha Manch (Save India Forum), an outfit he floated in June 2010 in Bhopal to create awareness against such intruders.
“Every state should maintain National Register of Citizens (NRC) as intrusions have been intentionally encouraged for long with a specific objective of harming India’s economy and damaging its social fabric. Whatever efforts were taken earlier to identify them, it was resisted by our own people. Devakanta Barua, who was the Congress president in the early 1970s, had himself pronounced that ‘till the time these Alis (Bangladeshi Muslims) and Kulis (porters) are allowed to come to Assam, Congress will never lose an election’,” Kelkar said.
“The same path is being followed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. Jamaat-e-Islami functionaries are playing an active role in facilitating the influx of illegal Muslim immigrants and helping them settle down in various parts of the country, including Madhya Pradesh. They are turning these immigrants into voters. They are not the refugees who have entered India to save themselves from any natural calamity. They are being sent into India by anti-India forces with a plan to change the demography here,” he added.
Kelkar denied that the NRC issue is an election ploy devised by the BJP to seek electoral gains. “It is wrong to say that it has anything to do with elections. We have met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and gave our suggestions that after the illegal immigrants are identified, they should be given work permits. This way, the government will at least have a documentary proof that they are Bangladeshis, and not Indians. They can then be settled down in a systematic manner and used as genuine labour force,” he explained.
Commenting on the issue, senior Congress leader and party spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi said that the Congress’ stance on the issue of NRC is clear both in Assam as well as Madhya Pradesh. “Whoever is not an Indian citizen and has entered India illegally should not be allowed to stay in Madhya Pradesh. But our only condition is that the identification process should be done through the established process of law under the supervision of the judiciary.”
Chaturvedi claimed that the Congress government under Manmohan Singh had deported almost 85,000 illegal immigrants, whereas the BJP has only been able to deport 1,800 people so far. “BJP is doing political drama to gain electoral mileage, whereas Congress is the one which has done the actual work quietly and without screaming about it,” he added.
Refuting the allegation, a senior BJP MP said that the issue of maintaining an NRC in Madhya Pradesh is not a political gimmick, but something which the state party leaders were very serious about. “It is not good that the illegal immigrants are given the same rights over the resources of the country like normal citizens. It is important to differentiate between a citizen, a refugee and an illegal immigrant. What is wrong in doing so?” he asked.
Bhopal-based BJP spokesman Rajneesh Agrawal said that the issue of including NRC and illegal immigrants in the party manifesto is being seriously considered. “The central leadership and the election manifesto committee will take a final decision on whether to include the issue or not after taking the guidelines of the Supreme Court into consideration. But, as of now, it is being seriously considered and discussed,” he said.