As the ruling BJP faces opposition anger over the updated National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam leaving out 40 lakh people, one of its chief ministers in the northeast, compulsive motor-mouth Biplab Deb, has stepped into another landmine.
Biplab Deb, the Chief Minister of Assam’s neighbour Tripura, as described the citizenship row as “not a big issue”.
“There is no demand for NRC in Tripura. Everything is systematised in Tripura. I think this is not a big issue even for Assam, (Chief Minister) Sarbananda Sonowal ji is capable of managing it,” Biplab Deb told reporters today.
“Some people are trying to create panic and disturb the environment,” added the 48-year-old who became chief minister of BJP’s first government in Tripura in March.
Over 40 lakh people left out of the draft citizens’ list face deportation if they cannot prove their citizenship.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has accused the ruling BJP of using the exercise to update Assam’s citizenship list to target Muslims in the name of identifying illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Anger over the citizens’ register stalled parliament today as opposition parties in both houses protested aggressively against what they called the government’s “divide-and-rule policy”.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asserted that no one will be deported or punished based on what is a draft list. Those missing from the list will be given a chance to submit their documents and prove their claim to citizenship, says the ministry.
Biplab Deb has, since his rise to prominence after the BJP’s victory in Tripura earlier this year, embarrassed his party repeatedly with his unfiltered comments.
Recently, in response to a question on how he would tackle mob attacks driven by fake news on social media, Biplab Deb said: “I think you all should think that today there is a wave of happiness in Tripura. You should also enjoy this happiness wave and you will also become happy. Look at my face, how happy I am. It’s people’s government and people will take action.”
He has also been derided for saying that “Internet and satellite communication existed during the Mahabharata era”.