Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that both the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and JNU events were “ultra-Left movements” also involving a small section of “jehadis.”
Talking about the JNU row, he said the jehadis had their faces masked during a demonstration on the campus on Feb 9 in which anti-national slogans were raised.
In the case of HCU where protests erupted after the suicide by a research scholar Rohith Vemula, he said Dr B R Ambedkar’s name was “unfairly used.”
However, he expressed satisfaction that religious and minority groups and their leaders across the country had not participated in the debate set off by the events in the two universities.
“The moderate Left and the Congress had got trapped into what was otherwise a movement of the ultra-Left,” the minister said, adding that the BJP had therefore taken it as an ideological challenge.
He said the BJP had won the first round of this “ideological debate” in the sense that everybody had to come at least “close to the position we were taking”.
The finance minister said he was not looking for a dividend, but this was an ideological positioning and the party has made its point.
Answering whether it was an overkill to slap sedition charges against JNU students union President Kanhaiya Kumar, Jaitley said it was a legal issue and he would not like to get into it.
“That is a matter of individual culpability. Whether he is technically liable, what sections should he be prosecuted for and whether he should be prosecuted or not. I do not want to prejudice the trial even against him or for that matter anybody else,” he said.
“There are slogans being raised that this country will be broken up by ‘jung’ (war). We will break up this country by jung. And an individual goes and participates in this unlawful assembly where this resolve is being made. So whether he is legally liable or not, is a question which courts will have to look into,” he added.
He said he is it was not a battle his party had started, but if somebody against starts the whole idea, then the debate will certainly carry on.
Jaitley said they took it as an ideological challenge and “whether for posturing or otherwise, as the core debate proceeded….At least they were pushed into this position (to say Jai Hind instead of Bharat Mata Ki Jai). I am quite happy and satisfied that they were pushed into this position.”
In an apparent reference to a declaration made by Majlis MP Asaduddin Owaisi, he said, “It is not compulsory in this country to raise a slogan (of Bharat Mata ki Jai). But it became an issue only when somebody said I take objection and I will not raise it.”