Being an important functionary of the JD(U) party wherein he knows he was installed as the Vice-President (with a heavy-hand arbitrarily without following inner-party democratic process), Prashant Kishor (b. 1977) may speak up on behalf of the PARTY, but not on behalf of the GOVERNMENT.
When he declared in a tweet with so much boldness: "...Also would like to reassure to all - बिहार में CAA-NRC लागू नहीं होगा।", did he have authorization from the CM or his cabinet to say so?
This is where we have to be more concerned and careful about what young men and women like Prashant Kishor and the millennials think about the constitutional-parliamentary foundation of the Indian Republic. They seem to have a fancy idea that they can take the law into their own hands at the drop of a hat. The behavior of young boys and girls at the select University campuses like JNU, AMU and Jamia-Milia are also the cases in point.
If the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), NRC (National Register of Citizens) or NPR (National Population Registry) are the laws of the land (passed by the two houses of parliament and assented to by the president), they can be changed or removed only by a parliamentary process. If our constitution says the states have to follow them, the states have an obligation to follow them. In India, a quasi-federal nation, the states can ignore or violate the federal laws only at grave risks: It may lead to a confrontation between the federal and the state governments and trigger a constitutional crisis where the Center will have the upper hand.
This is not to say, the courses to undo the federal laws are not open: they can be done by challenging the constitutionality of the law in the Supreme Court or, by taking the matter to the nation in the arena of public opinion and have the government replaced at the next election. In many democratic countries, issues-specific referendum takes place every two years or whenever the necessity arises.
The succeeding government could change the law, if it’s so outrageous. This has happened in the history of the Indian Republic several times: Laws have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and many draconian laws of Indira Gandhi's Emergency years, for example, were withdrawn by the next parliament/government.
The Government and the Opposition parties can also sit together during the life of the parliament, hammer out their differences, find out a middle course in the legislation acceptable to all and enact them.
In the current controversy in India where the ruling BJP is trying to defend its legislation on the Citizens Amendment Act (2019), and its stand on NRC and NPR, it was expected of the persons like Prashant Kishor to come out and educate the people of their significance and relevance in an emerging India. Being a coalition partner with the BJP, he should have persuaded his leaders to seek clarity on the issues involved and presented a joint front in the interest of all.
However, he seemed to have preferred the dangerous game of playing to the gallery.
There has always been a question mark on Prashant’s political persona; his loyalty has been shifting. His strategic skills have been up for sale all the time. Some time we hear he worked for Narendra Modi, then he made his intellectual property, if any, available to politicians and political parties ranging from Nitish Kumar, JD(U), to Capt. Amrinder Singh, Cong (I), to Mamata Banerjee, TMC or to Arvind Kejriwal, AAP. He seems to be inclined toward Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi as well. We have no clue about his affiliation with the Left parties!
A pertinent question before all of us would be: Shall we have, in the future, the leadership of Bihar or that of India in the hands of people like Prashant Kishor? Will the leaderships be guided by certain vision, ideologies and convictions or will they be available to the highest bidder?
We are not talking about the likes of Tej Pratap or Tejaswi Yadav in Bihar.
As a professional who had stints in international organizations overseas, Prashant must tell the educationally under-privileged people of his state and the country that every advanced society around the world maintains sound account books and statistics. In order to keep a healthy track of its people, every citizen is given a social insurance/security number, a variant of the Aadhar Card. With this Identity Card (ID), citizens can receive and the governments can offer umpteen services. If the people are genuine, there’s nothing to hide or fear. NRC and NPR are nothing but a compilation of information on the citizens of the country.
And yes, people can be in different national data banks (NRC and NPR) at the same time just as they can carry different cards besides the Social Insurance/Security Card. Provincial Health Card, Driver’s License, Disability, Company, Tax Discount Card or personal health insurance card are some of the examples in addition to MasterCard and Visa.
Knowledgeable people like Prashant could suggest the governments how to simplify the process so that people weren’t intimidated by the system. This is the future and the coming generation must be trained accordingly.
Instead, young men and women like Prashant were arguing how people in villages could produce a document, they didn’t know their date of birth! They seem to be in the company of people like Ms. Arundhati Roy who advised her ignorant audience to put the names of Ranga Billa and the address of the Prime Minister in their NPR forms. In his opposition to the BJP, Prashant Kishor and others seem to have thrown themselves on the side of leaders like Owaisi, who after a Friday prayer, tells his Muslim listeners not to produce their ID or any document if the government representatives asked for them.
Informed people like Prashant Kishor know the CAA gives relief to the minorities from the neighboring Muslim-majority/Islamic Countries and doesn’t treat them as illegal migrant for the purposes of granting them citizenship if they came to India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014. The Muslims have been omitted on the ground they didn’t constitute a minority in their countries and were considered superior in status to the other minorities (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christians) who were treated in their reduced status as a “Dhimmi.” The CAA didn’t shut off completely all the Muslims from applying for the refugee or citizenship status.
Still, for some Muslims and others opposed to the ruling BJP, this may feel awkward and perhaps discriminatory chiefly because they don’t experience any such treatment in India. But they have to bear in mind the government of a sovereign country can and will take a policy decision on who to admit as refugees and on whom to confer citizenship. Considering the problem of overpopulation and depleting resources in India, it would be unjustified to fault the current government that considers it has an electoral mandate to do so. The Indian government has an obligation to protect the people of India including the Muslims from being inundated by the undocumented and illegal migrants from the neighboring countries.
Instead of supporting and articulating the vision behind such difficult policy decisions of the NDA partner, Prashant Kishor preferred to embarrass his mentor, betray the people and join the brigade that is relentlessly panicking the Muslims with all kinds of rumors.
Instead of rising to the occasion and offering his sincere services to Bihar or India, Prashant Kishor, with his friends, has immersed himself in the power game.
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.