NEW DELHI: In one of the fieriest debates in the recent times, the issue of Rohit Vemula, Dalit scholar who committed suicide, and JNU episode rocked both the houses of the parliament as Opposition and the treasury benches traded charges.
While, emotionally charged HRD minister Smriti Irani attacked opposition, particularly Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, of politicising the death of a student and siding with those opposed to India, the united opposition pilloried the government for playing partisan politics. Congress, TMC, BJP, Left while denouncing anti-national slogans in JNU, they charged government was gunning against students opposed to their ideology.
Aggressive Irani took on the united Opposition in Lok Sabha head on while speaking during the discussion, saying she would leave politics if anyone of the vice chancellors appointed were to suggest she was indulging in saffronisation.
“I am not certifying your patriotism. But don’t demean mine. I am not certifying your idea of India, but do not demean mine,” she said even as opposition parties staged a walkout.
Rubbishing opposition charges over for her handling of Vemula’s death. Irani said, “My name is Smriti Irani. I challenge you to tell me my caste.”
"No one can raise a finger against me on this issue. I am taking it personally as woman who gives birth can break from inside,” Irani said choking with emotion while referring to her criticism over Vemula’s death while adding "Our children are not vote-banks." She said Rohith Vemula said that no one was responsible for his death and even added that the executive council that took the decision to suspend Rohith was appointed by Congress.
In Rajya Sabha, BSP supremo Mayawati clashed with Irani as her party members forced adjournments over non-inclusion of a dalit in the inquiry panel to probe Vemula’s death, and even insisting on separate discussion into Vemula’s death rather than clubbing it with the JNU issue. She also accused government being anti-dalit, even as no business could be conducted for the first day. responded to Mayawati by saying, "I am ready to reply to all questions. First you allow the discussion... You are senior to me. You are a woman. If you want, I am ready to reply. If you are not satisfied with my reply, I am ready to behead myself and lay it on your feet."
In Lok Sabha, Irani turned emotional several times as she read out from the posters and slogans used in the JNU against India, questioning the death penalty of Afzal Guru and even some uncharitable remarks against Goddess Durga. She questioned why was Rahul Gandhi siding with the anti-nationals and if attack on her was because she was Congress VP’s rivel in Amethi.
“Even Indira Gandhi lost power. But her son never supported slogans demanding destruction of India,” Irani said targeting Rahul for supporting JNU students.
Reffering to some in JNU also praising Yaqub Menon, she said bomb blasts took place in Mumbai on March, which is my mother’s birthday, how can i forget. They questioned Supreme Court and India, she added. Irani named all the student mentioned in the JNU report and said"Umar Khaild misled the university administration saying that he was organising a poetry reading event".
Referring to Rohit Vemula case, she said even other MPs had written to him several times, like Congress Hanumantha Rao, Assadudin Owasi, as it was her duty. “My ministry handled 61,000 complaints we never asked the caste or religious of them,” she charged. She accused Telangana government of playing politics over the death of a child. “
Have you seen Rahul Gandhi going to a spot twice. He went there, as he was playing politics. Earlier gandhio speaking to reporters outside the parliament had said he was willing to speak but he was not being allowed to voice his opnion. Rajnath Singh responded with saying government will not stop anyone.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured the Lok Sabha that no innocent student will be harassed and said the issue of sedition charge slapped against some students should be left for the courts to decide.
Earlier during the day, Congress MP Jyotiradtiya led the attack on government for death of Vemula and crushing dissent in JNU. "Bandaru Dattaterya in his letter had called Rohith a castiest and an anti-national. Where in the world can you see a HRD minister writing five letters in any case," he said.
While attacking BJP and RSS, Scindia also raised the issue of FTII, IIT Madras and JNU and said, "the government was trying to muzzle the voice of the youth."
He alleged that the government was angry with JNU because it stood against "saffron terrorism", Dadri lynching, RSS and the suicide of Rohith Vemula in the Hyderabad University.
From BJP side, Anurag Thakur raised the nationalist pitch over the JNU issue and attacked Congress, saying for the party, "it is 'family first', 'party next' and 'nation last'. For us, it is 'nation first', 'party next' and 'family last'."
He alleged that Rahul Gandhi went to the university to support such outfits which were named by the previous UPA government as "frontal organisations" for Maoists. "I want to ask Sonia ji, why your young leader was standing with those who stand with Afzal Guru," Thakur said addressing the Congress President who was present there.
TMC MP and former Harvard professor Sugata Bose accused the government of being "heartless" in dealing with the students and said the situation in the JNU should have been handled with sensitivity. He said BJP’s definition of nationalism was "narrow, selfish and arrogant" and even warned them for raising this pitch while qoting Tagore, Netaji and Aurobindo. He was heard with rapt attention. After his speech even Sonia and Rahul went to congratulate him.
BJD member Tathagata Satpathy described Azfal Guru as a "scoundrel" and said the system gave the dreaded man full chance to defend himself. But he added, the government should have handled the JNU episode with care and the Home Ministry should not have made a statement on the basis of tweets.
CPM MP M B Rajesh said the BJP was branding JNU as a centre of anti-national activities.
Congress leader M Mallikarjun Kharge said nobody should politicise the issues of Hyderabad central University and JNU. "You have 80,000 constables and you are not able to catch 8-10 students and instead you are defaming all the
people," Kharge said and asked whether it was Congress' fault.