Nationalism debate: Fight over Smriti Irani may escalate in Parliament

Nationalism debate: Fight over Smriti Irani may escalate in Parliament

The debate over nationalism may continue to dominate Parliament’s proceedings this week, even after both Houses had completed discussions on the issue.

The BJP came out in support of Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani after the Congress, Left and the JD(U) decided to push notice of breach of privilege against her for allegedly “misleading” the House in her reply on the debate over the issue of students of University of Hyderabad and JNU.

BJP spokesperson MJ Akbar slammed the Congress on Sunday, saying, “The Congress says the HRD minister had ‘insinuated’ that Rohith Vemula is not a Dalit, and sought a privilege motion. Do we call a privilege motion on the basis of insinuation or on the basis of what the minister has said? Had there been motion on the basis of insinuation, no Congress leader would have ever dared to enter Parliament.”

Even as the Congress alleged that Irani misled the House and pointed to the statement of Vemula’s family in its defence, the BJP leader maintained that the minister’s statement was based on official and police accounts.

In a bid to turn the tables on the Congress, Akbar said, “The Congress refuses to accept that the proctorial board and the executive council, which took the decisions on the students, were full of nominees of the UPA government. So, recommendations of the proctorial board and the decision of the executive council were taken by people who were appointed by the Congress.”

However, unfazed by the BJP’s defence, Congress leaders maintained that Vemula’s suicide and the JNU row were far from over in Parliament.

A section of the Congress even hinted that it may not negotiate the passage of the key bills with the BJP before the raging controversy dies down. “They (the BJP) will have to chew the pill (of consequences of the students’ issue.) Then we may talk about the bills,” quipped a senior Congress leader.

The BJP, however, continued to target Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi over the JNU and University of Hyderabad row. “Opposition leaders are so irresponsible that they make a fresh statement every day and disappear. Rahul Gandhi can hide from Parliament, but not from people,” said Akbar.

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