Uttar Pradesh Elections 2017: Arun Jaitley Says Attempts On To Make Nationalism Appear A 'Bad Word'

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Uttar Pradesh Elections 2017: Arun Jaitley Says Attempts On To Make Nationalism Appear A 'Bad Word'

Arun Jaitley campaigning at Varanasi for the last two phases of the Uttar Pradesh elections. (PTI)

Varanasi:  Arun Jaitley on Thursday said there was a "conscious attempt" by some in India to "make it appear that nationalism is a bad word". In the backdrop of the debate over freedom of speech following the recent protests at Ramjas College, the Union finance minister said it was a matter of concern if the mainstream starts to "indirectly strengthen" fringe elements' support for separatism. The minister, who was campaigning at Varanasi for the last two phases of the Uttar Pradesh elections blamed the opposition for orchestrating the crisis.

"During the Delhi polls there were false reports of attacks on churches in the capital, then during the Bihar elections 'award waapsi' started, so how can such forces be behind in the Uttar Pradesh elections, and so all this is happening," he said.

The trouble at Ramjas College had started over an invite to Umar Khalid -- the JNU student who was accused of sedition last year along with Kanhaiya Kumar following the raising of anti-national slogans at a programme they allegedly organised. The BJP-linked student group ABVP's opposition to the invite had reopened the debate. Over the weekend, the minister had blamed an "alliance of subversion" between the ultra-Left and separatist groups in some campuses.

Questioning why mainstream political parties have to "go and identify with them," he took a swipe at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who had visited JNU at the peak of the crisis.

"If Panditji was here or Mrs Indira Gandhi was here, I would differ with them or even Rajiv Gandhi was here -- would they have gone to JNU in support of the children who raised those slogans?" Mr Jaitley asked, "In fact I have no doubt that some of them would have been more aggressive in opposing them, because this is just not done."

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The crackdown by the police at the peak of the JNU crisis last year had drawn criticism not just from the Congress but a section of the civil society, who had accused the government of suppressing the student community from the right to voice their opinion.

"If you see the Student Union election results across the country, you will realise that the students very strongly favour a strong nation. There is fringe element in the University, the fringe is not the mainstream," the minister said. 

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