Mayawati Stalls RS But Scindia Stuns All with Fiery "Pitting the Excluded Against the Entitled" Speech
NEW DELHI: It is not often these days that the Lok Sabha reverberates with passion, and intellect. But what the Opposition described as the BJP/RSS attack on Indian democracy brought a high note into the House through Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia who devastated the treasury benches with a scintillating speech packed with arguments that lifted the debate beyond the BJPs Afzal Guru theme.
The young MP stood his ground, refused to yield even to the visibly agitated HRD Minister Smriti Irani, ignored her in fact, and made it clear to the shouting BJP MPs on the other side that they could not drown his voice. In a clear reference to the attack on freedom and dissent, Scindia said forcefully, “I am not yielding. I have the right to speak, you may not agree with me, i have no problem with that. But you cannot stop my voice. This is the right my Constitution has given me.” The treasury benches were unable to drown him out and he kept the floor, punching point after point, and refusing to be drawn into petty points sought to be raised by Irani and others in between.
Scindia spoke in excellent Hindi and English, with confidence, with facts and passion. Amidst cries of Shame Shame from the Opposition he made several points that came across with the force of a sledgehammer and had even the Speaker intervening several times on his behalf. In fact the BJP MP Anurag Singh Thakur who followed him in the debate had little to offer except the usual BJP campaign around the alleged support of the students for Guru.
Scindia instead took the debate into the right to dissent, into Indian democracy using the specific examples of Rohith Vemula and the discrimination by the Hyderabad Central University against Dalit students, and the witch hunt engineered by the central Ministers. As he pointed amidst cries of Shame Shame, Minister Irani sent five letters in four months for action against him and the other students. He read out the letter by BJP leader Dattatreya to the Minister using the words “casteist, anti-national, extremist’ against a student. And he spoke at length f JNU where he read out from court judgements to raise the question as to how young students were arrested for sedition for raising little more than slogans, when the courts and the law itself differentiated between the verbal and the actual act of violence.
The points made firmly, clearly, passionately were many but some that stood out were:
- Rohith Vemula made the mistake of acting on his beliefs. Is it anti-national to follow in the path of Babasaheb Ambedkar?
- The central government put its entire might against the students, have never seen this before.
- This government talks of Ambedkar and then goes out and commits atrocities on Dalits.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweets on everything, but it took him five days to break his silence on the Vemula issue. And in his mann ki baat he did not say a word about the student.
- Have never seen a situation where the National Security Advisor of the country submits a report to the Union Cabinet about whether a student is a Dalit or not.
- Senior government ministers come out with one statement after another: Rohith is not a Dalit, nahin hai, nahin hai, nahin hai. Is this what we are reduced to?
- A HCU Professor has said that these are not suicides but institutional murders.
- We strongly oppose and condemn the slogans, but slogans are not criminal.
- Sedition is only if there is incitement to violence
- Why did the Delhi police arrest Kanhaiya? Because he is not with the RSS, because he defeated the ABVP.
- Sakshi Maharaj (BJP leader) says Godse is a patriot. I can say that this is anti national, as Godse killed the Father of our
- Kanhaiya was arrested without proof. The police looked on silently while the lawyers beat up journalists. Vikram Chauhan and Yashpal Singh say they will throw petrol bombs, they will kill Kanhaiya inside his cell but no action is taken against them. They are arrested finally, briefly, and released on bail when their statements are recorded on camera. But a boy against whom there is no proof is still in jail.
- OP Sharma said that if he had a gun he would have killed (the activist he beat up outside Patiala courts) What is the BJP government doing against them?
- Is this our democracy, is this our heritage and traditions?
The day started with Left MPs who staged a demonstration against the government attack on Jawaharlal Nehru University on the steps of Parliament, with Bahujan Samaj Party leader emerging from silence to take the centre stage in the Rajya Sabha.
The Bahujan Samaj Party leader who has been more silent in Uttar Pradesh than customary, started question hour in the Upper House with a castigation of the current government’s role in the suicide of Rohith Vemula in HCU. She was critical of the Congress as well for its anti-Dalit policies, but the focus remained the BJP government for its intolerance towards students and University campuses like the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Mayawati then insisted that the government answer her question as to whether it will include a Dalit in the enquiry panel it has set up to probe Rohith Vemula’s suicide. Parliamentary Affairs Minister of State Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi insisted that the discussion, slated for the afternoon, on the entire controversy be preponed urging the BSP leader to wait for the government response. She made it clear that her question was independent of the discussion, and needed an immediate answer. She was supported actively by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, Congress party’s Ghulam Nabi Azad and the rest of the Opposition. BSP MPs marched into the well of the house raising slogans against the government for being anti-Dalit “Dalit virodhi sarkar, nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi.”
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned repeatedly as a result. Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the response would come at the end of the discussion and urged Mayawati to wait for that. She refused, insisting that this was a specific question about the constitution of the enquiry panel where a simple yes or no would do. The government did not yield, and nor did the BSP MPs. A short altercation between Mayawati and HRD Minister Smriti irani added to the chaos. irani said she was willing to answer any question posed to her, “are we signalling to this country that a judge’s capacity to deliver justice will depend on his caste now sir?” Yechury said, they (government) have sent out the signals they want to send, so lets not bring extraneous issues here.
Opposition leaders tried to reason with Mayawati and persuaded her to allow the House to take up the discussion on Wednesday. She said as much in the House. But continued to demand a response from the government to her question seeking Dalit representation in the committee with the discussion in the Upper House having been postponed by a day.