Jharkhand: Development economist Jean Dreze was forced to cut short his speech at a programme in Jharkhand after the state's agriculture minister Randhir Kumar Singh heckled him, reportedly because he was offended at his references to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the BJP's ideological mentor.
- Jean Dreze contended that RSS' thoughts were attributed to Mahatma Gandhi
- His remark irked Randhir Kumar Singh who didn't let him finish his speech
- Mr Singh claimed that the economist had got his facts wrong
A day later, several prominent activists gathered outside Jharkhand's Raj Bhavan to protest against Jean Dreze being prevented from finishing his speech, calling it a reflection of the intolerance in the country.
The economist, invited as a speaker by a Hindi daily in Ranchi on Sunday, had questioned the authenticity of a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi in a government advertisement that questioned Christian missionaries for trying to convert tribals in India. The activist economist contended that the state government was attributing the RSS' thoughts to Mahatma Gandhi.
The broader point that the economist was making was that communalism was more dangerous when the state created antagonism between communities.
According to a video of the event, Mr Singh and some other people sitting in the audience were soon on their feet in protest. "What do you know about the Sangh," he yelled. They wanted the economist to be stopped from continuing and an apology as well.
Jean Dreze didn't get to continue his speech anyway and walked back to his seat as Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh took charge. He first told the state minister and others to settle down.
Once they did, the union minister told the economist that he had got his facts wrong. In an interview to the Harijan magazine on 11 May 1935, he said, Mahatma Gandhi had said that if he had the power to make laws, "I would have stopped the business of conversions".
"If you read the full interview, he (Gandhi) had made stronger remarks (about conversion)," Radha Mohan Singh said.