Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke for over an hour in the Lok Sabha on Thursday but avoided controversial issues such as sedition charges on some Jawaharlal Nehru University students, Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad, or the recent violent Jat protests in Haryana.
The PM didn’t even talk about his Pakistan policy that was severely criticised by the Opposition as he wrapped up the debate on the motion of thanks to the President.
The PM’s continued silence may provide fresh ammunition to opposition parties such as the Congress or the Left that have often accused Modi of remaining mum on key issues.
The Opposition had specifically demanded the PM speak up after Vemula’s suicide, allegedly due to the high-handed attitude of university authorities instigated by senior BJP functionaries.
On the JNU row too, the Opposition had demanded the PM speak and address the students’ community.
The two issues rocked the Parliament’s ongoing budget session, leading to sporadic disruptions in both Houses as an angry Opposition lashed out at the ruling dispensation over what they termed as an “assault on democracy.”
The PM, however, gave an example of post-Stalin USSR when Nikita Khrushchev, the then Soviet premier, was asked by someone why he didn’t protest during the Stalin-era? Khrushchev replied nobody had the liberty even to pose such questions when Joseph Stalin was in power.
The PM might have tried to underline the oft-debated issue of “intolerance” through this story but the Opposition might use the same example to turn the tables on the BJP, to demonstrate how the NDA is stifling students’ voices.