After Smriti Irani’s emotional and fiery defence of government action on JNU row and Rohith Vemula subject in Lok Sabha, Arun Jaitley has further raised the ante in Rajya Sabha.
He launched a stirring attack on those sloganeering in JNU, asking whether free speech is similar to sedition. He said that the kind of language used in the circular for that JNU meet said a lot and that the people whose name was on that circular were ultra-Leftist. Jaitley asked if hate speech could be termed as free speech. The Union Finance Minister also powerfully condemned the vandalism at Patiala Court.
Jaitley said that in the JNU row Congress took action first and thought later. He took a jibe at Congress’ pro-Left position saying their bonhomie with the Left is due to the nearing West Bengal election. Jaitley answered questions about BJP’s alliance with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that it is done so that mainstream Kashmiri parties don’t feel isolated.
Jaitley asked the MPs whether police should remain a silent spectator when anti-national slogans are made in the heart of the capital. He defended police action saying that university campuses were not sovereign territory. The Union Finance Minister gave the example of the past about how efforts have been made to break India. Jaitley alleged that by opposing police action parties had indirectly helped those who were questioning the sovereign integrity of the country.
Jaitley took a jibe at CPI(M) too saying that they were ‘Congress Marxist’ party in Bengal. Jaitley said that Congress should be more vigorous in condemning terror as they had faced the brunt of extremism, alluding to the assassinations of Rajiv and Indira Gandhi. Jaitley rounded up his speech by saying that parties shouldn’t do anything to give credibility to anti-national forces.
In a way, Jaitley has hardened BJP’s line, making it clear that the party is in no circumstance planning to go on the backfoot in the JNU row. By saying that ‘great offence’ was committed, Jaitley has only reaffirmed the tough stance taken by Rajnath Singh before.