Mumbai: Even though Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has given his nod for the commencement of the National Population Register (NPR) exercise from May 1, the NCP, on Monday insisted that the NPR methodology and the questions to be asked by enumerators will have to be decided jointly with the other MVA partners — the Shiv Sena and the Congress.
At a meeting chaired by NCP chief Sharad Pawar with his party ministers, it was decided that the NPR exercise won't happen on the basis of the methodology and additional questions released by the Centre.
NCP spokesperson and Maharashtra Minister of Minorities Affairs Nawab Malik told FPJ: “The MVA partners will jointly study the questions and the methodology determined by non-BJP states to carry out the NPR exercise; only then, it will finalize its strategy. NCP has serious objection to some of the questions related to birth date and place of parents. There are many people who don’t know their birth place.”
He also said that these questions tagged later by the Centre are not needed, as the information is accessible if the person is registered with the Aadhaar authority.
The Congress party has already opposed the NPR exercise in the present format released by the Centre. However, the Shiv Sena has said, “NPR and NRC are two different subjects. NPR is related to the census and it is the Centre’s prerogative to implement it. It is in national interest.”
The NCP's emphasis on vetting the stand taken by the non-BJP states is the key to any decision; a case in point is the Congress ruled Rajasthan, which has strongly demanded that the Centre should remove questions pertaining to birth place of parents, etc.
Although the Centre has clarified that the answers to these questions are not mandatory, CPM-ruled Kerala has put on hold the NPR exercise conveying to the Centre that it can be part of the process only after its concerns are addressed.
In West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government has announced that it will not participate in the NPR process.
On the other hand, the Congress-led government in Punjab has agreed to carry out the updating, house listing and housing census in the first phase of the decennial census in the state from May 15 to June 29 this year.
However, the Punjab government is now evasive on carrying out the NPR exercise after the state assembly passed a resolution demanding scrapping of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
While updating the register in 2015, the government has asked details like Aadhaar and mobile number. This time, the information related to their driving licence and voter ID card may also be gathered. However, PAN card details will not be collected.
A state legal officer said states have no power to stop the census or NPR exercise. In fact, not participating in the census and NPR is a punishable offence.