Congress, BJP trade barbs over JNU row, Rohith Vemula issue

New Delhi : Amid heated arguments between the opposition and the treasury benches, the Lok Sabha on Wednesday discussed the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) row and the issue of the death of a research scholar in Hyderabad University.

Initiating the discussion, the Congress accused the central government of using government machinery for crushing the voices of those who are opposed to the ideology of the BJP and the RSS. But the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took pot shots at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for standing with anti-nationals.

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“Inside parliament, the ministers of this government take oath of constitution and outside they crush it. Using government machinery they are crushing the voices of those who oppose the ideology of RSS,” Congress chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia told the Lok Sabha.

“They targeted Kanhaiya Kumar, the student’s union leader just because he was opposed to the ideology of RSS and had defeated an ABVP candidate in JNU election,” he added.

The Congress MP from Guna in Madhya Pradesh also accused the BJP-led government of creating an atmosphere of intolerance in the country, alleging that efforts were on to crush any opposing point of view.

“What we have seen in the last two years is an atmosphere of intolerance in the country. There is every possible attempt to crush opposing viewpoint,” Scindia said.

Scindia said the government wants a particular thinking to prevail.

Scindia demanded action against Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani and Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya over the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad university.

Participating in the debate BJP member Anurag Thakur accused Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi of standing with anti-nationals and said the Congress party would have to decide either they were with the martyrs of the country or with those who support terrorists like Afzal Guru.

“You will have to decide whether you are with those who attacked our parliament or those who protect it? You will have to decide whether you are with ideology of Gandhiji or Maoists,” Thakur said.

Targeting the Congress and its vice president Rahul Gandhi, Thakur said: “Your leader goes and sympathises with those who were celebrating Afzal Guru as a martyr.”

Thakur accused the Congress of “standing with those who call Afzal Guru a martyr”, and sought to know from Congress president Sonia Gandhi whether Afzal Guru was a terrorist or not.

Thakur began by invoking the sacrifices of Captain Pawan Kumar and Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, adding the BJP stood with the soldiers and implemented the long-pending ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme.

“For them (Congress), it is family first, party next and nation last. But for us, it is nation first, party next and self last,” he said.

Thakur, while quoting a reply of 2014 in parliament by the then union minister of state for home affairs, R. P. N. Singh, termed the Democratic Students Union (DSU) as one of the frontal organisations of Maoists.

However, during his entire speech, the BJP leader didn’t speak a single word about Rohith Vemula, the research scholar of Hyderabad University who committed suicide alleging harassment.

The JNU has been on the boil after a police crackdown on students accused of shouting anti-India slogans, while Hyderabad Central University had erupted in protests against alleged harassment of Dalit students following the suicide on January 17 of Rohith Vemula, who was one of the five suspended for clashing with an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad leader.