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Intolerance debate heats up in House, BJP talks ‘Hitler, Emergency’ to hit back at Opposition

Intolerance debate heats up in House, BJP talks ‘Hitler, Emergency’ to hit back at Opposition
Highlights

Government dismissed Opposition charge of a threat to the Constitution and sought to turn tables on the Congress for imposing Emergency when fundamental rights were suspended. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also insisted that the term \'secular\' will remain part of the Preamble of the Constitution.

Government dismissed Opposition charge of a threat to the Constitution and sought to turn tables on the Congress for imposing Emergency when fundamental rights were suspended. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also insisted that the term 'secular' will remain part of the Preamble of the Constitution.


"Today there is no threat to the Constitution, no Emergency, there are no arrests (of political rivals), no supercession of judges. We must work together to strengthen the Constitution," Naidu said in the Lok Sabha while participating in the discussion on commitment to India's Constitution.

Responding to the debate on the term secularism witnessed in the House yesterday, he said the word is part of the Preamble "and will remain so. But what I want to say is that it should be in our hearts and should remain."

At the same time, he hit out at 'pseudo secularists' saying those who followed politics on the basis of caste and communal lines "call others as anti secular."

"People get swayed and misled by caste and religion. Then for five years, they cannot do anything," he said.

Under fire over the 'intolerance' issue, the government cited Hitler's actions in Germany in 1930s to target the Congress in Rajya Sabha and said the Emergency in 1975 had "subverted" the Constitution. Dictatorship was at its worst then as right to life and liberty were suspended, finance Minister Arun jaitley said.

Initiating a discussion on the 'Commitment to India's Constitution', Jaitley said measures should be taken to strengthen the Constitution and ensure that democracy was not subverted again.

Jaitley narrated the sequence of events that took place in Hitler's regime, suggesting that these were replicated by Indira Gandhi who imposed Emergency in 1975.

"There are worst illustrations in history when Constitutional systems are used to subvert the Constitution... You have the most glaring example in the world when in 1933, Emergency was declared in Germany," he said, while countering the attack on goverment on 'intolerance'.

He said Hitler, using the pretext of a threat to "set ablaze the German Parliament", imposed Emergency, detained the Opposition to gain majority for amending the Constitution, censured the press and came out with a 25-point economic programme.

"Thereafter, they brought a law that no action taken by the government was justifiable in court. Then Hitler's immediate adviser Rudolf Hess in a speech said: 'Adolf Hitler is Germany, Germany is Adolf Hitler'," Jaitley said.

Though he said he was only referring to the events of 1933 in Germany, Jaitley was apparently citing similarities to actions during Indira Gandhi's regime when it was said 'Indira is India, India is Indira'.

"Germany never claimed a copyright to what happened in other parts of the world later," he added.

"The biggest challenge we faced (during Emergency) was that Article 21 was suspended and citizens lost even the right to life and liberty. This was dictatorship at its worst," Jaitley said.

When some member from the Opposition benches said comparisons should not be drawn, the Finance Minister retorted: "Of course, there is no comparison. The difference is between a mouse and a mole hill".

He noted that after the Emergency period was over, the Constitution was amended to make Article 21 "permanently non-suspendable.. So, today we are far more safe."

Jaitley, who also holds the portfolio of Information and Broadcasting, added, "We should block all systems by which Constitution or Constitutional systems could be used to subvert democracy... We must all be prepared to strengthen each institution of democracy."

Seeking to needle the Opposition which has been targeting the government over 'intolerance', he asked how the House would react if Ambedkar had made his 1949 speech today for implementing Article 44 (that calls for bringing in Uniform Civil code) and Article 48 (that calls for prohibiting cow slaughter).

He stressed there should be no state religion and theocracy should not be practised as enshrined in the Constitution.

In the present times, he said, the "biggest challenge" to any Constitutional system in the world is terrorism and there should be a united fight against it instead of some adopting a "soft" approach for vote bank politics.

The government kept up the same tune on Lok Sabha too. It dismissed the Opposition’s charge that the Constitution of India was under threat and once again used the ‘Emergency’ to hit back at the Congress.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu insisted the term 'secular' will remain part of the Constitution’s preamble.

"Today there is no threat to the Constitution, no Emergency, there are no arrests (of political rivals), no supercession of judges. We must work together to strengthen the Constitution," Naidu said in the Lok Sabha while participating in the discussion on the ‘commitment to India's Constitution’.

Responding to the debate on the term secularism yesterday, he said the word is part of the Preamble "and will remain so. But what I want to say is it should be in our hearts too”.

At the same time, he hit out at 'pseudo secularists' saying it is ironical those who follow politics on the basis of caste and communal lines should "call others as anti secular".

"People get swayed and misled by caste and religion. Then for five years, they cannot do anything," he said. Naidu's remarks came in the backdrop of Congress President Sonia Gandhi targetting the government yesterday on the issue of intolerance. She alleged ideals and principles of the Constitution were under threat and were being deliberately attacked.

Noting there was a need to reject pseudo-secularism, Naidu said the goal should be development of all and appeasement of none.

On the issue of intolerance, he disapproved of several leaders of the BJP and Sangh Parivar who have made controversial statements. "The fringe elements should be secluded," he remarked.

Without naming any BJP or Opposition leader, the Union minister was also critical of "making statements in the country and in neighbouring countries".

He targetted Congress over the controversial remarks made by former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and another Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer in Pakistan recently.

He said he had expected Congress President Sonia Gandhi would condemn the remarks which never happened. "I don't think she approved of the remarks," he said.

Naidu claimed Aiyar had asked Pakistan to "overthrow" Modi for better Indo-Pak relations. He did not name Khurshid but said the former External Affairs Minister had also made controversial remarks abroad.

When Naidu questioned the silence of Congress on their remarks at a time when Pakistan was trying to create trouble in Jammu and Kashmir, Gandhi herself hit back wondering why the present government "did not stop" Islamabad from fomenting trouble.

Continuing her attack, she reminded the Treasury benches of the recent 'dog' remarks by Union Minister V K Singh. "What did your minister say," she asked while other Congress members named Singh who was not present.

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said Aiyar was not a Congress Working Committee member and was a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha. He said since he was not a Lok Sabha member, Naidu should have refrained from taking his name.

As the war of words continued, Naidu recalled the statement of another Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed who had said the government narrative would have been "different" had Chhota Rajan and ULFA leader Anup Chetia been Muslims.

But Naidu continued his tirade referring to the statement of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi that Hindi-speaking people were trying to take control of the northeastern state.

Responding to Kharge's remarks yesterday that Aryans had invaded India, Naidu said B R Ambedkar had dismissed the Aryan Vs Shudra theory in his book. "I will send a copy of the book to Khargeji as I know he does read," he said, taking a dig at the Congress leader.
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