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India not Going to be Blown Away by Slogans From Few Crazy People: Khurshid

Published: 15th February 2016 12:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th February 2016 12:10 AM   |  A+A-

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By PTI

NEW DELHI: Amid the raging row over alleged anti-national remarks at an event in the JNU campus, Congress leader Salman Khurshid today said India is not going to be "blown away" by a few slogans from some "crazy people", even as he called the reaction to the controversy "disproportionate".

"I am unclear about what purpose is to be served by these crazy people who made these slogans against the country. I don't know what context was involved there, unless they thought they were doing some favour to some Kashmiri movement.

"But no matter what they said and did, I think that we shouldn't be so exercised. India is not going to be blown away by a few slogans by some crazy people," he said.

The former Union minister also crticised the reaction to the controversy, terming it as "disproportionate". It could have been handled within the university itself, instead of being presented as a major threat to the country.

Khurshid was speaking at a panel discussion titled -- 'Media and the intolerance debate: Has verdict 2014 changed India -- which also featured columnist Ashok Malik and journalists Rajdeep Sardesai and Aniruddha Bahl at the closing session of the first Delhi Gymkhana Club literature festival.

"These are things that can be handled within the university. There must be systems by which these things can be handled within the university. To make them appear as a major crisis and a major threat to the country is completely disproportionate," he said.

Khurshid said one must have confidence in the integrity and culture of the country.

"We must have confidence in our country, in our faith, in what we are. We must also be confident about the integrity and strength of our culture," he said.

Reacting to Sardesai's remarks that civil rights must include a "right to offend", Khurshid said, "Right to offend is an interesting but dangerous idea."

"I essentially would support the right to offend. But our Constitution does not support the right to offend...Now if we were to change our Constitution for the right to offend, it will open up a huge window through which many things would come.

"Should you punish a person for right to offend or should you prohibit it. There are a few degrees of restrictions that we can impose. When talking about right to offend, one must be careful. There is a very thin line between being offended and being provoked by the offence," he said.

When asked by Bahl whether the character of the country had seen a change after the 2014 general elections, Khurshid said that though there might be a slight change in ambience, they are only marginal and temporary.

"I think the ambience has changed a bit (after the 2014 elections). But, I think India is too deeply rooted in its character, in its nature, to  change over the course of an election," he said.

"I think people make a mistake when they think that an election going one way or another changes the country. There are some marginal changes that are temporary. I don't think that it is permanent. 2014 was certainly not a revolution, it was just another election," Khurshid said.

The senior Congress leader also criticised the media for "not performing" their role in properly shaping public discourse, saying the biggest worry as a politician was, to not offend the media.

"Media has a special responsibility in public debate. The media doesn't allow public discourse to take place in the manner it should. My biggest worry as a politician is that I should not offend the media. Because the media cannot take offence for a moment," he said.

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