NEW DELHI(TH): Presaging a stormy budget session, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad has termed the government’s “disregard for maintaining social harmony” the biggest impediment to its own goals, rather than what the Opposition could do.
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Mr. Azad said the Opposition had been inclined to co-operate in running Parliament but that “issues have now overtaken Bills.”
He also expressed scepticism over the government’s goals, looking at the controversies over the death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula or the sedition case against JNU Students’ Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
“If you look at what Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi talks about, it is mostly about India’s growth, development, foreign affairs… And yet, his government stumbles from one controversy to another. I feel his primary responsibility as head of the government is to win the confidence of all sections of people, regions, religions across the country. Either he has not understood the complexity of the country, or he doesn’t want to,” he said.
“As an Indian, I condemn in strong terms the raising of anti-India slogans, but also feel that the government’s own attitude is responsible for this state of affairs. Today, something happens in Hyderabad or in Delhi, or in West Bengal, this would not have happened had the government of India reined in its Governors, its Union Ministers, its Members of Parliament, its party functionaries who were giving hate speeches, hate write-ups”, he said.
“The partisan attitude of the government of condoning wrong behaviour from its own people has emboldened others. Action should be taken against those boys who raised the slogans but also against the BJP’s own people who are dividing the country by their utterances and their day-to-day functioning,” he said.
‘BJP, RSS polarising campuses’
Mr. Azad said “the BJP and the RSS want to polarise campuses, and defame student unions other than the ABVP, thereby creating a situation in which they can project it as the most nationalist and dub others as anti-nationals.”
“In an interview to The Hindu, Mr. Azad said: “It is not a question of just one university. I have said it earlier, too, that there is a modus operandi behind what is happening at Indian universities. Whether it is Delhi or Hyderabad, and even in West Bengal. There may have been 10 or 15 boys in that incident at JNU who may have raised slogans against India. We don’t know whether they were students of that university. What about thousands of other students who are being branded because of this.” Answering a question on the BJP hoping to appropriate the nationalism plank through the JNU incident, Mr. Azad compared it to the story about the camel and the tent. “Have you heard the story of the camel and the tent? In our [the Congress] case, we are the owners of the tent of patriotism, the secular tent, having preserved it in heat and rain, and the BJP is the camel that is trying to appropriate the tent from us when good days are there.”
Mr. Azad said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s impromptu visit to the JNU campus in the wake of the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar was recognition of the fact that the BJP and the RSS were deliberately undermining student bodies other than their own.