Congress came under fire from top ministers in the Modi government on Sunday for “sympathising with supporters of terrorists”, a day after Karnataka home minister gave a “clean chit” to Amnesty International over an event where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.
Leading the charge, finance minister Arun Jaitley said ‘Azadi’ slogans cannot be treated as freedom of speech and slammed Congress and its Karnataka government, accusing them of indulging in vote bank politics over the issue.
“Four days ago, in the capital of Karnataka, during a programme in Bangalore, ‘Azadi’ (freedom) slogans were raised by a few people. An organization, which gets funding from abroad, organised the event and yesterday I read the statement of Karnataka home minister in which he said that whatever happened is nothing wrong,” Jaitley said.
“After so many sacrifices this country has made, some political parties do it for vote bank politics,” he said addressing a rally on the outskirts of Jammu city.
The finance minister recalled a similar incident at Jawaharlal Nehru University in January and said raising slogans to advocate the disintegration of the country cannot be seen as freedom of speech as advocated by some.
Union minister Ananth Kumar, who met a group of ABVP activists on a dharna in Bengaluru, charged the Congress government in Karnataka with “sympathising with supporters of terrorists” and taking action against nationalists.
“It is unfortunate that the Congress government under the chief ministership of Siddaramaiah has taken action against nationalists and sympathised with supporters of terrorists,” he told reporters.
“It is the duty of the Union and state governments to protect the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country. I am very happy about ABVP activists’ efforts to do so by waging a fight against the present Congress government in Karnataka,” he said.
The protesting activists submitted a memorandum demanding a National investigation Agency (NIA) investigation into the whole episode.
In reply, Kumar said he would meet Union home minister Rajnath Singh and convey the sentiments of the protesters and submit the memorandum seeking NIA investigation into the incident.
However, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor defended Parameshwara’s clean chit to the human rights organisation, saying national security does not get compromised when a few people chant anti-national slogans.
“National security of our country is not going to be compromised by few people shouting slogans. We are stronger than that, we are bigger than that, we are better than that,” Tharoor told PTI on the sidelines of a conference on IPR organised by OP Jindal Global University (JGU) in Delhi.
“Charging Amnesty with sedition law was already a big mistake. The NGO has not advocated violence and no one at the conference did so,” he said, adding, “We are not at war at the moment. We don’t have to think in terms of treason and all,” he told PTI.