Congress leader Shashi Tharoor Sunday said the Centre’s “over-reaction” to the February 9 event in JNU had triggered a discussion on the “meaning of nationalism”. Addressing students at JNU’s administration block, Tharoor said, “We must be grateful for the government’s over-reaction… as it has forced us all to question the meaning of nationalism.”j
It was important to discuss and debate the issue, Tharoor said, adding, “This university has been at the centre of a very important debate. That debate is about what the idea of India is, and what nationalism means. We must all have a conversation about this, because diversity of opinion and culture is what India stands for.”
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On the student movement at JNU, Tharoor said, “You (students) may have come here to receive an education, but let me tell you that you are educating us all in Parliament and the country.” He also praised the JNU Students’ Union for its sustained effort in demanding justice for Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
Mentioning Kerala — he is a MP from the state — Tharoor said, “Kerala is home to the first set of Jews, and our country is the only one where Jews never had to face anti-semitism….”
However, Tharoor said he was perturbed by some of the slogans allegedly raised during the event. “Some of the slogans supposedly raised that night did bother me and many good people in this country. But India is not so weak that a few irresponsible slogans by misguided students can destroy it.” Criticising the charges of sedition against some JNU students, Tharoor said, “What happened does not amount to sedition. The Supreme Court has time and again ruled that unless there exists direct incitement to violence, it does not constitute sedition. This is something that the Delhi Police seem to have ignored when filing such charges.”