Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi has written a guest column in the latest issues of pro-RSS magazines Panchjanya and Organiser and makes a strong case for free speech in his article while referring to freedom of expression and sedition as being “strange bedfellows”.
Singhvi termed it as a “victory of Indian Constitution”, the fact that the journal repeatedly approached him and he finally agreed to write for it.
Singhvi even justified his writing for a pro-RSS publication by saying that a Congress leader writing for the Journal implfies “evidences the power of free speech.”
In his article, he defends several instances of speeches by the likes of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and activist Binayak Sen, which the Sangh Parivar often finds seditious
In his article, he cautions Modi government against overuse of the sections on sedition in the IPC and goes on to acknowledge as “reprehensible ” the recent controversial utterances by AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi but the utterances don’t qualify as sedition.
“Certainly, I as much as most of you may neither wish to speak what Kanhaiya spoke, nor do it in a manner/form or occasion as was done by Omar Khalid or Binayak Sen or indeed Owaisi.
“Some of their utterances are truly reprehensible (example Owaisi) or disagreeable in content or form. But that does not make them seditious. The Constitution does not deny them the right to air it just like it does not prevent me or you from opposing their viewpoint and content as vigorously as we like. This is what makes us different from Pakistan and each one of our South Asian neighbors,” Singhvi said.
Owaisi had recently triggered a political storm by refusing to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.
“As I write this at the repeated request of the publishers, I am struck by a delicious irony. I overcame my initial hesitation and early refusal of the magazine’s request on the ground that fundamental principles of free speech the topic invited by the publishers itself obliges me to write in a magazine with which I usually disagree and whose managing organisation I frequently criticise.
“But it is the victory of the Indian Constitution that I have been asked repeatedly, that I agreed and that I am attempting to alter an alternative viewpoint strongly held by the Organisation and publishers running this magazine!”