Lawmakers in NDA-ruled Bihar on Tuesday resolved against implementing a National Register of Citizens and decided to only go along with the national population register on the condition that the home ministry excludes the new contentious questions added to the questionnaire.
The two assurances were bundled in one resolution that was passed by the assembly in response to an adjournment motion moved by Leader of Opposition in the assembly Tejashwi Yadav.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had responded to this effort by the Rashtriya Janata Dal to corner the government, declaring that there should be "no confusion" on how the National Population Register, or NPR exercise would be carried out in the state. Nobody would be asked to furnish information such as places of birth of parents, Nitish Kumar said.
Bihar is the first NDA-ruled state to pass a resolution against the proposed NRC. Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United is in power in partnership with the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar.
In a signal that the two alliance partners were on the same page on this matter, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi asserted that people would be required to answer only questions that had been asked during the 2010 exercise.
NPR, a comprehensive biometric database of all "usual residents" in India, was created in 2010 and updated in 2015.
As the Home Ministry set out to update the database later this year, it added questions about the respondent's mother tongue and the place and date of birth of the respondent's parents. These additional questions were viewed suspiciously by opposition parties, particularly against the backdrop of the government's announcement earlier about rolling out the NRC.
After the huge row erupted over amendments that introduced a religion test to citizenship for people from three countries, however, the Centre has insisted that there had been no decision yet on the NRC. Opposition parties point out that this declaration does not imply that the government won't go for the NRC in the future.
It is not clear how opposition-ruled states would respond to the reported move to drop the contentious questions from NPR. BJP leaders believe that it could put some opposition parties in a spot, particularly the Congress that had launched the NPR project in 2010.