For the second straight day, HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday made a strong defence of the government’s actions with regard to JNU issue and suicide of Dalit student in Hyderabad University in the face of intense attack by the opposition which alleged that attempts were being made to suppress dissent.
Irani, who was ballistic in the Lok Sabha yesterday, was comparatively mellowed down in the Rajya Sabha today as she replied to questions raised on her performance as also that of the HRD ministry under her. She said she had been “rightly” advised by someone to be calm.
Her reply to a short duration discussion, however, was cut short as the House was abruptly adjourned after uproar over her certain comments which she made while alleging that some elements in JNU had published derogatory pamphlets about Goddess Durga.
As she narrated the descriptive details of the pamphlets, Anand Sharma of Congress took objection, saying it could set a precedent and in future somebody else could repeat it with regard to Gods of other religions.
“What is happening here? This is too much. It’s a dangerous precedent. Every religious leader and deity has been derogatorily referred by some persons. Will all this be discussed here? Can we allow it here. Then there will be a war in the House,” Sharma said.
Irani insisted with her reference, saying it was imperative to counter the charge levelled against her.
Responding to objections, Deputy Chairman P K Kurian said she has authenticated what she had said. “What can I do?” he said.
With the opposition remaining unrelenting, he adjourned the House till tomorrow. Earlier, the HRD Minister contended that JNU row as well Vemula’s suicide were being projected wrongly to target her, and quoted Macbeth, saying “fair is foul, foul is fair”.
She also rejected the charge of saffronisation of education and to buttress her point, she cited the case of wife of a Left MP appointed by the NDA government as an ICHR member.
She also hit back at Congress, saying its government had appointed a former NSUI president as Haryana Central Univeristy Vice Chancellor.
Irani also referred to other political appointments by the previous government to make her point.
To Congress’ criticism of her action against certain vice-chancellors, she said Vishwa Bharti University VC was removed by the President after an inquiry indicted him on charge of sexual misconduct.
She recalled that TMC as well as Left members had written to her demanding action against him.
“For you to say I am ‘sanghi’ (RSS member) with horns on my head removed them is wrong,” she said while also defending scrapping of the DU’s Four Year Undergraduate Programme.
She also took a dig at Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) over his attack on her on Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad Central Univeristy. Irani read from Vemula’s Facebook posts in which he criticised the Left over absence of dalits from its leadership.
“Yechury sees his party as a private agency. He is waiting for this amendment to be made to convince his party to taker dalits into leadership,” she quoted from his post, which he had written in response to Yechury’s call for quota in private sector.
She also rejected the charge that police had never entered JNU before the recent row, saying in 2009, during UPA rule, police had entered the campus and lathi-charged students.
With regard to the row over anti-national slogans, she said a JNU report had named the accused students.