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Free speech and nationality can co-exist, says Arun Jaitley

Speaking to media at the BJP’s national executive meet, the finance minister says there should be no debate over raising slogans like ‘Bharat mata ki jai’

india Updated: Mar 20, 2016 23:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
nationalism,slogans,arun jaitley
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with finance minister Arun Jaitley at the BJP’s national executive meet in New Delhi. (Virendra Singh Gosain/ HT Photo)

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday that while the Constitution allows for free speech and dissent, it does not permit “destruction of the nation”.

Speaking on the recent Jawaharlal Nehru University row involving the arrest of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and a few others on the second day of the BJP’s national executive meet, Jaitley said that the idea of nationalism – which he described as the “driving force of the BJP” – can co-exist with free speech.

Read: Sena wants Owaisi’s head over Bharat Mata remarks

“Our directions are guided by national principles. We fully support freedom of expression. Free speech and thought process of nationality can co-exist – there is no duality in that. We fully support that there must be the right to dissent and disagreement in the society,” he said.

The finance minister held that the entire JNU campaign was spearheaded by Leftist forces. “Though some people did come and raise anti-national slogans at JNU on the first day, by and large the ultra-Left was in the forefront of the entire debate,” he said. “In fact, the members or leaders of the minority community did not come up. Most of them didn’t comment or participate in that debate.”

Read: Criticism of party, person or govt is okay, but not of India: Amit Shah

Commenting on the ongoing controversy over shouting nationalist slogans, Jaitley said there should be no debate in this regard. “People in India should have absolutely no difficulty as far as this slogan is concerned. The best example you saw was at Eden Gardens yesterday,” he said.

Loud slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ had rent the air during Saturday’s T20 match between India and Pakistan at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, a contest that the hosts had gone on to win by six wickets.

Firebrand All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi had stirred a hornet’s nest by stating that he wouldn’t raise patriotic slogans even if a “knife was held to his throat”.

Commenting on the ongoing stalemate over government formation with the People’s Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir, Jaitley said that the BJP was fully committed to the agenda of governance that was formed in Jammu and Kashmir.

The government’s focus was on economic as well as social inclusion and good governance, he added.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Mar 20, 2016 14:54 IST