Under fire over ‘intolerance’ issue, government cites Hitler’s actions to target Congress over Emergency

New Delhi(PTI): Under fire over ‘intolerance’ issue, Government today cited Hitler’s actions in Germany in 1930s to target Congress in Rajya Sabha for imposing Emergency by “subverting” the Constitution and said “dictatorship was at its worst” as even right to life and liberty was suspended.

Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks in Rajya Sabha during winter session of Parliament in New Delhi on Friday.PTI

Initiating a discussion on the ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution’, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said measures should be taken to strengthen the Constitution and ensure that democracy is 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 in Germany Emergency was declared,” he said, while countering the attack on goverment over ‘intolerance’ issue.

He said Hitler, using the pretext of a threat to “set ablaze the German Parliament”, imposed Emergency, detained opposition to gain majority for amending the Constitution, censored (rpt) censored the press and came out with a 25-point economic programme.

“You impose Emergency, detain opposition, amend the Constitution, impose censorship on newspapers and announce a 25-point economic programme.

“Thereafter, you brought a law that no action taken by government was justiciable in court and then Hitler’s immediate adviser Rudolf Hess in his speech ended by a sentence that ‘Adolf Hitler is Germany, Germany is Adolf Hitler’,” he 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’.

“What happened in other parts of the world later, Germany never claimed a copyright,” 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 of the institutions 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 that 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 united fight against it instead of some adopting a “soft” approach for vote bank politics.