Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the opposition benches for blocking the updating of the National Population Register (NPR) in states ruled by them and accused them of misleading people over a routine administrative exercise purely for vote bank politics, while replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President's speech in the upper house on Thursday.
In his first defence of the NPR in the house, the prime minister reminded the opposition that the enumeration of residents of India had been conducted previously under a different government at the centre and the process had previously been notified by the same states that have now suddenly developed an aversion to it.
"All states had approved NPR but some have now taken U-turn for political reasons," the PM said amidst the din created by opposition benches.
Several opposition-ruled states have blocked NPR, which is an exercise to update the existing record of all the residents in the country, alleging that it will be used by the Centre to identify immigrants from the Muslim community, who will be later banished using another contentious scheme--National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Opposition had raised specific objections to questions seeking to find out respondents' parents' place of origin and their language. The prime minister said those questions were necessary for administrative purposes.
"Question in NPR on language spoken by parents are essential for introducing relevant languages in schools," the PM said and added, that opposing it for political reasons will deprive the poor of the benefits of welfare schemes.
Modi said biometric data was collected in NPR in 2011, during the Congress-led UPA government and the repeat of the same exercise was now being opposed for vote-bank politics and not for any genuine concerns.
"Census and NPR are basic exercises that have happened in the past as well. Now that vote-bank politics is to be done, they are spreading rumours. Small changes are topics of governance and people should not be spreading lies about it," the prime minister said to applause from the treasury benches.