ESCALATING THE political battle over the JNU row, BJP president Amit Shah on Monday accused Rahul Gandhi of supporting “separatists” and asked whether the Congress vice-president wanted another division of the country.
Shah’s attack came in a blog, titled “Is this Congress’ new definition of nationalism?”, posted on his website. Speaking to mediapersons later, Shah criticised Rahul for backing the students who protested against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, and sought an apology for his support to “anti-nationals and separatists.”
“I want to ask him if his support for such slogans means that he has joined hands with the separatists. Does he want to give a free hand to separatists in the name of freedom of expression and want another division of the country?” Shah said.
In his blog, written in Hindi, the BJP chief claimed that the incident at JNU was “nothing but a conspiracy” to turn the university into a “hotbed of separatism and terrorism”.
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Shah wrote: “I want to ask Rahul Gandhi that given the seditious activities at the JNU campus, should the central government have remained a mute spectator? Should such a stance by the central government be in the interest of the nation? Are you not encouraging anti-national forces by supporting such shameful acts of anti-national activities?”
Hitting back at Rahul’s comparison of the Narendra Modi government to Hitler’s Germany, Shah wrote that the “traits of Hitler’s person are in Congress party’s DNA”.
“I want to know from Rahul Gandhi if the 1975 Emergency defines Congress party’s democratic values, and doesn’t he find a parallel between Indira Gandhi and Hitler,” he wrote.
Drawing a parallel with soldiers who have died defending the country and those who were killed in the Parliament attack of 2001, Shah wrote, “Is this Rahul Gandhi’s example of nationalism and patriotism where he defends those who raise slogans in favour of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru and support separatism in Kashmir? I want to ask Rahul Gandhi if this is how he has offered his tribute to the 10 soldiers, including Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, who lost their lives while defending the nation at the icy heights of Siachen Glacier, by openly supporting anti-national activities at JNU?”
While speaking to reporters, Shah asked how long would Congress “continue with its vote back politics” and if it is ever concerned about “providing shelter” to anti-national activities.
Taking a jibe at Randeep Surjewala for using the suffix “ji” while taking the name of Afzal Guru, Shah asked if Congress spokespersons were still supporting anti-national activities. “What is there in the heart at times comes out,” Shah said.
Some political observers feel that the JNU row could be a boon for the BJP, which faced severe criticism over the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit student of Hyderabad Central University.
Several BJP leaders had admitted privately that there was a “political misreading” of the suicide’s fallout as Dalit leaders, including party MPs, expressed their anguish over the labelling of Vemula as “anti-national”.
BJP leaders had also expressed the apprehension that the suicide could portray the BJP as an anti-Dalit party ahead of key state elections this year and in 2017.
This time, though, at least three senior party leaders said that the JNU issue would strike an emotional chord with many voters. “We always have an upper hand in matters of nationalism,” said a BJP general secretary.
A section of party leaders, however, fear that the issue could unite the Opposition ahead of the crucial Budget session, starting February 23. “The issue could have been dealt with at the students’ level. There was no need to bring it into this level,” said a BJP leader.
But he suggested that the party was compelled to act after Rahul Gandhi visited the JNU campus along with CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja and other left leaders. “When he (Rahul Gandhi) goes to the university and attacks our party and government, we cannot remain silent spectators,” said the BJP leader.