Rahul Gandhi politicising suicide: Smriti

Rahul Gandhi politicising suicide: Smriti

An aggressive Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday accused the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi of politicising the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad University.

She countered the opposition parties’ allegations that the government sought to stifle freedom of expression in the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The Lok Sabha witnessed a heated debate on the suicide of Vemula and the current turmoil in JNU in Delhi, with the Congress criticizing the government of stifling freedom of expression and crushing dissent. The ruling BJP accused Rahul Gandhi, of sharing dais with “anti-national elements” in the varsity.


Congress’ chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Jyotiraditya Scindia, slammed the BJP-led government for growing intolerance in the country as well as for crushing views opposed to its own. Anurag Thakur, BJP MP from Himachal Pradesh, turned the table on the Congress, asking the opposition party to first decide if it was with 2001 parliament attack conspirator Afzal Guru or with people who fight against the terrorists and lay down their lives to protect the sovereignty of the nation.  
  
Replying to the debate, Irani went on offensive and targeted Rahul Gandhi, accusing him of resorting to political opportunism over the suicide of Vemula. She dismissed the allegations of opposition parties about purported attempt by her in particular and the BJP-led government in general to “saffronize” the education system of the nation. She also quoted from records of JNU authorities to drive home the point that it was the varsity administration and not the police that initiated actions against the student leaders for raising anti-national slogans in the campus.

The Congress MPs, who objected to some of her initial comments and trooped into the well of the House, later staged a walkout before she stepped up her offensive against the opposition parties.

“I am anguished today because the one who gives birth (to children) is now being held responsible for the suicide of a youngster,” a visibly emotional HRD minister said, dismissing allegations that her ministry repeatedly wrote to Hyderabad University – acting on letters she received from Union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya – to act against Vemula and other students in the varsity.


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