Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Monday rejected criticism from Congress leader P Chidambaram on his ‘alliance of subversion’ remark about the turmoil in Ramjas College and said the latter had his history and facts wrong.
On Chidambaram reminding Jaitley of his own role as a student leader in DU in the mid 1970s, the latter told HT: “He belongs to a political party which subverted democracy in 1975”.
“I went to prison for 19 months opposing the Congress’ autocracy. If fighting for democracy is Chidambaram’s definition of subversion, he really has to redefine his grammar of politics”, Jaitley added.
He criticised Congress leaders supporting these elements.
“I expect political parties to oppose this idea of subversion. Some have jumped to support them without application of mind or thinking of consequences”, he said.
In an event in London on Saturday, Jaitley commented on the recent turmoil in Ramjas College, Delhi, saying there was “no space for violence”, but there needed to be a debate whether assaulting the country’s sovereignty should be permitted under the idea of free speech.
According to him, there is an ‘alliance of subversion’ between separatists and ultra left-wing elements on university campuses.
“If somebody speaks about breaking India into pieces and thinks that is part of free speech – don’t forget under Article 19 (2) sovereignty is an exception to free speech – but assuming you wanted that right, be liberal enough to believe that within the democratic framework a large majority will stand up to you ...”.
“Then don’t say that my free speech is being hindered. I find it strange that an argument is being raised that I have free speech to advocate that India should be broken into pieces but those who oppose me are hindering my free speech. They also have a right of free speech...”, Jaitley said
In the same event at London , Jaitley said without naming businessman Vijay Mallya that he uses meetings with British counterparts to raise the issue of individuals wanted in India for economic and other offences who are taking refuge in Britain.
Jaitley is due to meet chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond on Tuesday, among meetings with other business leaders.
He is on a four day visit to London mainly to represent India at Queen Elizabeth’s reception in Buckingham palace on Monday evening to launch the UK-India Year of Culture.