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Jaitley uses Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s anniversary to attack Congress on free speech debate

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CBI; Jaitley

Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday attacked the Indian National Congress, saying the party supported the “tukde tukde” agitation at the JNU by calling it a “legitimate free speech”, while the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, amended the Constitution to restrict Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s advocacy of ‘Akhand Bharat’.

Mookerjee, whose birth anniversary falls on July 6 (today), was the founder and President of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the precursor of the Bharatiya Janta Party.

In a blog, Jaitley said there were many in India who were opposed to the very idea of partition and amongst the leading opponents undoubtedly was Mookerjee.

“He was one of the key advocates of a united India which he referred to as Akhand Bharat. Two days before the ‘Nehru-Liaquat Pact’ was to be signed in April 1950, Dr Mookerjee, who was Industry Minister in the first Cabinet as a Hindu Mahasabha representative, resigned from the Cabinet in protest and took a strong public position against the Nehru-Liaquat Pact,” the senior BJP leader said.

Mookerjee, he said, spoke extensively in Parliament and outside, opposing the pact and advocating his philosophy in brief of ‘Akhand Bharat’.

“Pt Nehru over-reacted to Dr Mookerjee’s criticism. He interpreted the very idea of ‘Akhand Bharat’ i.e. united India as an invitation to conflict since the country could not be reunited other than by war.

“He, therefore, advised Sardar Patel to consider what action would be taken,” said Jaitley, who is recuperating from a kidney transplant operation.

After consultation with Constitutional experts, Sardar Patel’s opinion was that he could not prevent Mookerjee from propagating his idea of ‘Akhand Bharat’ under the Constitution and if the Prime Minister wanted him to stop this, the Constitution needed to be amended.

The Bill to amend the Constitution which, amongst others, contained the restriction relating to ‘friendly relations with foreign states’ was introduced in Parliament, he said, adding it was passed despite objections by leaders like H V Kamath, Acharya Kripalani, Mookerjee and Naziruddin Ahmad.

“Was this intolerance against Dr Mookerjee and his philosophy which triggered this Constitution amendment? The answer is obvious,” Jaitley said.

But the major paradox today is that the essence of this amendment was that a mere speech advocating ‘Akhand Bharat’ is a threat to the country, it can be an incitement to a war and, therefore, any talk of the same could be prohibited, he said.

“It could even be made a penal offence. The paradox in our jurisprudential evolution is that we have applied a different yardstick to those who want to dismember India and commit an offence of sedition. This debate recently came into forefront during the ‘Tukde Tukde’ agitation at the Jawaharlal Nehru University,” said Jaitley, in an apparent attack on the Congress.

In the past 70 years, he said India has witnessed a change in the situation where Pt Nehru amended the Constitution so that a demand for ‘Akhand Bharat’ could incite a war and therefore should be prohibited.

“On the contrary, we all were told that to advocate a breakup of the country without inciting violence is legitimate free speech,” the senior minister said.

A group of students had allegedly raised anti-India slogans like Bharat tere tukde honge (India, you will be disintegrated) at the JNU campus in February 2016 and cases were filed against some students.

The BJP had criticised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for visiting JNU after the incident.

BJP chief Amit Shah had said the Congress should be ashamed of Gandhi’s visit to the JNU campus and questioned whether anti-national slogans can be called freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, JNU student Umar Khalid on Friday said the students will not “lie low” and vowed to challenge in court the JNU panel’s recommendation upholding his rustication in connection with the February 9, 2016 incident against Parliament attacks convict Afzal Guru’s hanging during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised in the campus.

The JNU inquiry committee upheld Khalid’s rustication and a fine of Rs 10,000 imposed on Kanhaiya Kumar, the then students’ union president, in connection with the campus event against Afzal Guru’s hanging.

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Supreme Court asks search committee on Lokpal to recommend names by Feb end

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New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Thursday fixed a February end deadline for the search committee on Lokpal to recommend the panel of names for appointment of the first anti-graft ombudsman of the country.

The search committee is headed by former apex court judge Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai,

A bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the Centre to provide the search committee with the requisite infrastructure and manpower to enable it to complete its work.

The bench, also comprising Justices L N Rao and S K Kaul, said it would hear the matter again on March 7.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench there were certain problems like lack of infrastructure and manpower due to which the search committee was not able to hold deliberations on the issue.

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BJP not involved in any operation to topple Cong-JDS government: Yeddyurappa

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Yeddyurappa

Bengaluru | BJP Karnataka chief B S Yeddyurappa on Thursday said no member of his party was involved in any operation to topple the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.

With the ongoing power tussle between the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition and BJP in Karnataka intensifying, both sides have been trading charges of trying to poach each other’s MLAs.

“The BJP has nothing do with ruling coalition MLAs who are in Mumbai,” the former Chief Minister said and accused the Congress and JD(S) of trying to shift the blame on his party to cover up their ‘failures and inability’ to keep their flock together. “No one from the BJP has indulged in any kind of operation or luring Congress-JD(S) MLAs.

We had gathered all our MLAs atone place and were discussing about the preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for the last two-three days. Todayall are coming back,” Yeddyurappa said.

Speaking to reporters here, he hit out at the Congress leaders, saying they talk about the Constitution, but everyone was aware of how they played with it since 1960. “Why do they have to fear if we gather our MLAs, I don’t understand. Internal fight within Congress and JD(S) is going out of control… to cover up their internal squabbles, they should not blame the BJP,” he added.

Yeddyurappa, who was in New Delhi and Gurugram along with 104 BJP MLAs for the last few days, returned to the city to visit the ailing 111-year-old prominent seer Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga mutt in Tumakuru district.

Reacting to Congress-JD(S) leaders’ claims that some BJP MLAs were in touch with them, Yeddyurappa said, “We are together. You (Congress-JD(S) have said four to five MLAs are in your contact. Call them. Let me see.

If your MLAs have gone to Mumbai or Delhi, what do we have to do with it? It is -Congress-JD(S)- your duty to keep your legislators intact. No one is in touch with us…I’mtelling you,”he added.

The Leader of Opposition in the assembly also questioned as to who the leaders of Congress-JD(S) combine were to question his party about camping in Gurugram. “Who are they to ask where we are going? You try tokeep your MLAs intact, why are you blaming us? Tomorrow they (Congress) have called their legislature party meeting. how many will come it will be known, their true colours will come out tomorrow.” “Without understanding that your MLAs are dissatisfied and disgruntled, don’t unnecessarily put blame on BJP,” Yeddyurppa said.

Pointing out that during S M Krishna’s chief ministership, Maharashtra MLAs were kept at a resort in Mysuru, and recently Gujarat MLAs were put up in a resort in Bengaluru, Yeddyurappa questioned as to “where did Congress’ democracy go then?”

Hitting out at Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Yeddyurappa said despite being taught a lesson by the people ofChamundeshwari constituency, he had notlearnt anything.

Siddaramaiah lost the Chamundeshwari assembly seat in the May polls, though he won from Badami. Lashing out at the BJP and calling it “shameless” for allegedly luring ruling coalition MLAs, Siddaramaiah on Wednesday had said that Yeddyurappa has grown old, but has no wisdom.

Yeddyurappa also targeted former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and called him “a political opportunist”. “…all his fights and principles are only limited to secure his and his family’s political interests.People of the state are well aware of Deve Gowda’s use and throw policy,” hesaid.

Targeting Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Yeddyurappa said 156 taluks were in the grip of drought, but the chief minister and his ministers are not working effectively. “What are you doing? Who is travelling- Chief Ministers and Ministers- What steps have you taken when farmers are in distress?” he questioned. “In such a grave situation, without doing your duty, you are trying to shift the blame on BJP. You will not gain anything from it,” he said.

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Congress MLAs, MLCs urge Rahul Gandhi to nominate CLP leader

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Rahul Gandhi

Hyderabad | Newly-elected Congress MLAs and MLCs in Telangana on Thursday unanimously resolved to urge party president Rahul Gandhi to nominate their leader.

The meeting was attended by AICC representative K C Venugopal, who spoke to party MLAs, MLCs and MPs on the matter.

Venugopal said he would convey the legislators’ views to Gandhi, who would take a decision as early as possible.

“We took a unanimous resolution authorising the Congress president to nominate the new CLP (Congress legislature Party) leader of Telangana,” he said.

Congress won 19 seats in the 119-member house in the December 7 assembly elections.

Meanwhile, the first session of the assembly after the polls began here Thursday with the newly elected members taking oath as MLAs.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was the first to take oath.

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