For the first time since he became a member last week, Subramanian Swamy spoke in the Rajya Sabha uninterrupted, without making any provocative remarks and without being disturbed by the Opposition.
Swamy stood up to speak on two other occasions in the past week, and both times he created a flutter by linking Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her family with the AgustaWestland helicopter scam.
On the first occasion, in fact, he could not even complete a sentence, having brought up Sonia’s name at the start of his speech. The second time, on Tuesday, he could speak for more than 15 minutes but amid strong protests by the Congress.
On Friday afternoon, in the presence of just 15 members in the Rajya Sabha, Swamy got up to speak again, but this time it was not about AgustaWestland or anything to do with the Gandhi family. He participated in a discussion on a resolution on the abolition of capital punishment that was moved by CPI member D Raja. His short speech on capital punishment prompted Congress MP Jairam Ramesh to ask how Swamy could make a speech without making any allegations.
Swamy spoke strongly in favour of retaining capital punishment, arguing that no country of “any importance” had abolished the death penalty. “It is a futile debate,” he said, while calling the campaign against death penalty a “part of a fashionable international movement of NGOs”.
“The US has it, Russia has it, all the Arab countries have it, Iran has it. Even the country with which Raja’s party has fraternal relations, China, has death penalty. You (Raja) have not been able to convince China to abolish death penalty, you want India to abolish it. Only some crazy liberal nations have done away with capital punishment,” Swamy said.
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He claimed the Congress was confused on the issue. “They (Congress government) hanged Afzal Guru but they want the killers of Rajiv Gandhi to be set free. They do not want to subject them to capital punishment even when the Supreme Court has said that is the rarest of rare case,” he said. “In my opinion, India is not going to change. We are going to have capital punishment, but the safeguards are necessary. The Supreme Court has already laid down those safeguards,” he said.
Earlier, D Raja argued that India must say an “emphatic no” to capital punishment and till such time that a decision in this regard is taken, there should be a moratorium on execution of all death sentences. “The world is moving towards a new kind of jurisprudence, one based on humanism, one based on correction of individuals committing crimes, may be, even heinous crimes. But we still lag behind… We still stick to colonial relics, on colonial laws,” he said.
The CPI member said a study by National Law University had shown caste and religious biases in award of death penalty and indicated that 94 per cent of those given capital punishment in terror-related cases were either Dalits or belonged to religious minority communities.
“I am not making an insinuation… I am not casting aspersions on any individual judge or court. But all said and done, we are all human beings, and we have been talking about corruption. Corruption does not only mean involvement of money. It can mean involvement of caste bias or religion bias as well,” he said.