New Delhi: At a time when Home Ministry and
Planning Commission are at loggerheads over carrying out
bio-metric collections for the Unique Identification Number
project, BJP on Saturday demanded that the mandate of the UIDAI`s
ambitious scheme should not be extended without addressing
national security concerns.
However, the party said by raising security concerns over
the UID project, it was not siding with P Chidambaram in the
ongoing battle between the Home Ministry and the Planning
"Security concerns are more important than the Home
Minister...we want to know by what time the National
Population Register will be ready," party chief spokesperson
Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.
He said the insistence by the Planning Commission to
enroll identities beyond its initial mandate of 20 crore to
ensure benefit of welfare programmes to the right beneficiary
raises "disturbing questions."
"Can the issue of development be divorced from securities
issues. Welfare programmes are financed from tax payers`
money. Why should it go to those who have got no legal status
to stay in India? There are already reports that in many parts
of the country including North East, illegal immigrants have
manipulated documents to corner benefits meant for the poor as
also voting rights," he said.
Prasad said in this light the turf war between the
Planning Commission and the Home Ministry on such a sensitive
issue was "very unfortunate."
He said even the Parliamentary Standing committee on
Finance had recently criticised the UID Bill that in substance
gives statutory status to the UIDAI "which means overlapping
with the National Population Register (NPR) which is also
engaged in collection of biometric data."
Prasad used the tussle between the MHA and the plan panel
to attack the UPA government, saying, "confusion, chaos,
differences and turf war have become the defining and
disturbing feature of nearly all decisions of the UPA.
"Ministers don`t agree, ministries differ and there is
also serious disconnect between the Congress and the allies on
many policy initiatives. This is the latest in the saga of
uncertainty...," he said.
Citing the Citizenship Act, 1995, he said elaborate
provisions prescribe as to who is a citizen of India, what is
the qualification for the same and who can get registered as a
"Under section 14 A of the Act, the Central government
has to compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue
national identity card to him. Under this provision the
Central Government is required to maintain a National Register
of Indian Citizens and issue National Identity Card to him.
This is a legal obligation," he said.
The Rajya Sabha MP said the whole concept of National
Register of Indian Citizen and establishment of a National
Registration Authority for this purpose is of fundamental
"Citizens have rights and also obligations. The most
important aspect is the issue of national security when we see
massive infiltration from across the border to foment trouble,
terror and destabilisation in the country," he said.