Last week’s violent scuffle at Delhi University’s Ramjas College may well be a new focal point of war of words between the opposition Congress and the ruling party BJP. As Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley blamed what he termed an “alliance of subversion” behind the campus violence, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram questioned Jaitley, referring to his days as the student leader in Delhi University.
Speaking in London, where he is on a official visit, Jaitley said, “there is an alliance of subversion which is taking place. The separatists and the ultra-Left are speaking the same language in certain university campuses. So they must be willing to allow others with a different opinion to put a counter viewpoint.”
He was replying to the questions at the South Asia Centre of the London School of Economics (LSE), when asked about his stand on the classification of the term “anti-national” and the clashes between Left-backed AISA and the RSS-affiliated student outfit ABVP in Ramjas College.
“Any idea which thinks in terms of disintegration of (the) country, is something I abhor. Within the framework of upholding the sovereignty of (the) country, we can ideologically differ but free speech does not permit you to assault the sovereignty of the country,” Jaitley said.
Arun Jaitley himself was into an active student politics and was the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) president in 1975.
Stressing that he did not believe that there was “any space for violence” on campus, Jaitley said, “I personally believe that free speech in India and in any society, has to be debated. If you believe, you have free speech to assault the sovereignty of the country, then be ready to concede free speech to counter that.”
“Violence is not the method; no group can and should use violence…,” he argued further.
Joining the issue with Jaitley, former Union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram asked him whether he was heading an “alliance of subversion”.
“When Mr Jaitley was President of DUSU in 1975, was he heading an ‘Alliance of Subversion’?” Chidambaram asked writing on the micro-blogging site Twitter.
Clashes had broken last week outside Ramjas College in North Campus of Delhi University over the seminar invite to JNU student Umar Khalid and former JNU Student’s Union leader Shehla Rashid. ABVP was raising protest demanding the cancellation of invite to both the students.
The violence, where Delhi Police admitted lapses on the part of its personnel, left several students and few teachers injured. The matter is under probe by the Delhi Police’s crime branch.