In a twist to the raging controversy over the National Register of Citizens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Sunday that there had been no discussion, no talk on an NRC for India since his government had taken power in 2014.

Mr. Modi’s comments fly in the face of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in the Lok Sabha on December 9: “We are very clear that NRC will happen in this country.”

Mr. Shah also said in the House, “Magar maan ke chaliye ki NRC aane wala hai” [but accept that there will be an NRC].

‘In line with SC order’

Addressing a rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan to kick off the BJP’s campaign for the Delhi Assembly election, Mr. Modi, however, said the NRC was conducted only in Assam in line with the Supreme Court’s order.

He attacked the Congress and “urban Naxals” for spreading “lies and rumours” about the NRC, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and detention centres for Muslims, and followed it up with an appeal to the youth to both read and read up on the NRC and the CAA.

“The NRC — what lies are being spread about it… this [the NRC] was made during the Congress era. Were you asleep then? We didn’t make it; it didn’t come to Parliament, nor did it come to the [Union] Cabinet. Nor have its rules and regulations been formulated. A bogey is being created,” he said, towards the middle of his one hour-and-forty-minute address.

‘Childish criticism’

Terming statements by the Congress and its allies “childish”, the Prime Minister argued how a government which had succeeded in conferring land and ownership rights on the urban poor “without considering” either the religion or caste of the beneficiaries could make another law in the same session to expel them.

“These are childish statements. The Congress, parties like it and their allies… you’re continuing to peddle lies? After the formation of my government, from 2014 till this day, I want to tell the 130 crore citizens of the country, there has been no discussion on the word NRC. There hasn’t even been any talk [about it]. Only, after the Supreme Court said so, it [the NRC] had to be done for Assam. What are you talking about? Lies are being spread,” Mr. Modi said further.

The CAA, Mr. Modi said, was not for any Indian citizen, whether Hindu or Muslim.

“This has been said in Parliament… This law has no connection to the 130 crore citizens of this country… The Congress, its allies and some literate naxals living in urban areas — Urban Naxals — are spreading the rumour that all Muslims will be sent to detention centres. I am amazed that this rumour is leading even well-educated people to ask what detention centres are,” he said.