Govt cites Hitler’s actions to target Cong over Emergency

NEW DELHI : Under fire over ‘intolerance’ issue, Government today cited Hitler’s actions in Germany in 1930s to target Congress in Rajya Sabha for imposing Emergency by “subverting” the Constitution and said “dictatorship was at its worst” as even right to life and liberty was suspended.
Initiating a discussion on the ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution’, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said measures should be taken to strengthen the Constitution and ensure that democracy is not subverted again.
Jaitley narrated the sequence of events that took place in Hitler’s regime, suggesting that these were replicated by Indira Gandhi who imposed Emergency in 1975.
“There are worst illustrations in history when Constitutional systems are used to subvert the Constitution… You have the most glaring example in the world when in 1933 in Germany Emergency was declared,” he said, while countering the attack on goverment over ‘intolerance’ issue.
He said Hitler, using the pretext of a threat to “set ablaze the German Parliament”, imposed Emergency, detained opposition to gain majority for amending the Constitution, censured the press and came out with a 25-point economic programme.
“You impose Emergency, detain opposition, amend the Constitution, impose censorship on newspapers and announce a 25-point economic programme.
“Thereafter, you brought a law that no action taken by government was justiciable in court and then Hitler’s immediate adviser Rudolf Hess in his speech ended by a sentence that ‘Adolf Hitler is Germany, Germany is Adolf Hitler’,” he said.
Though he said he was only referring to the events of 1933 in Germany, Jaitley was apparently citing similarities to actions during Indira Gandhi’s regime when it was said ‘Indira is India, India is Indira’.
“What happened in other parts of the world later, Germany never claimed a copyright,” he added.
“The biggest challenge we faced (during Emergency) was
that Article 21 was suspended and citizens lost even the right to life and liberty. This was dictatorship at its worst,” Jaitley said.
When some member from the Opposition benches said comparisons should not be drawn, the Finance Minister retorted: “Of course, there is no comparison. The difference is between a mouse and a mole hill”.
He noted that after the Emergency period was over, the Constitution was amended to make Article 21 “permanently non-suspendable.. So, today we are far more safe.”
Jaitley, who also holds the portfolio of Information and Broadcasting, added, “We should block all systems by which Constitution or Constitutional systems could be used to subvert democracy…We must all be prepared to strengthen each of the institutions of democracy.”
Seeking to needle the opposition which has been targeting the government over ‘intolerance’, he asked how the House would react if Ambedkar had made his 1949 speech today for implementing Article 44 (that calls for bringing in Uniform Civil code) and Article 48) that calls for prohibiting cow slaughter).
He stressed that there should be no state religion and theocracy should not be practised as enshrined in the Constitution.
In the present times, he said, the “biggest challenge” to any Constitutional system in the world is terrorism and there should be united fight against it instead of some adopting a “soft” approach for vote bank politics.
Calling for unitedly fighting terrorism, Jaitley said the
entire country should speak in one voice and nobody should be “seen soft” on terrrorism.
“The biggest challenge to any Constitutional system in the world is terrorism. We have to fight that challenge together. Sometimes for vote bank politics, we hold ourselves back from criticising the way we should. This is the result of the last 65 years,” he said, in an apparent attack on Congress.
In this context, he referred to the 2001 attack on Parliament, Mumbai blasts of 1993 and serial blasts on local trains in Mumbai in 2006.
Jaitley also made a veiled reference to the 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon who was hanged few months back and said “The manner in which he was passed off as a martyr …Somebody who virtually massacred Mumbai. How would have Dr Ambedkar reacted to this?”
Quoting Ambedkar’s famous speech delivered on November 25, 1949 while proposing the Constitution document, Jaitley the Constitution-maker had raised apprehensions on whether India will be able to maintain its independence.
“When countries are challenged, the country should speak in one voice. Therefore, those who seek to destroy sovereignities, countries cannot be seen to be ever supporting them…,” he said, citing historical events relating to Jai Chand and Gulab Singh.
At this some Congress members raised furore and asked Jailtey to specify what he meant.
To this, the Finance Minister said he was only referring to acts of terrorism. “I have no hesitation in saying that nobody in this country should ever be seen as soft on that kind of terrorism”.
On Judicary, Jaitley said the Constitution ensures its
independence but stressed that at the same time Parliament too is part of basic structure of Constitution.
Noting that independence of judicary is absolutely essential, the lawyer-turned-politician said appointment of judges to high judiciary should be done through a consultative process.
“Today, the absolute contrary to what Dr Ambedkar had envisaged is happening,” Jaitley said, adding “today we have reached a position where CJI…Will appoint and everyone else is irrelevant. No position of law can ever justify it”.
He said activism by courts many a time has raised questions that it should not cross the “lakshman rekha” and the “delicate” balance between different organs prescribed in the Constitution should not be affected. No law can ensure to maintain this, Jaitley added.
A court cannot decide how many calories a terrorist has to be fed or how bullets could be fired in an encounter, he said.
Talking about repealing of the fundamental right to own and acquire property in 1970s, Jaitley urged members to ponder over whether one should be transient in thinking and be overswayed and tinker with the fundamental rights as the same issue had come back to haunt during the discussion on land bill.
“Sometimes short term vision in dealing with constitutionalism is not the right thing to do,” he added.
He also talked about the concept of federalism, saying after “misuse” of Article 356 several times during one party rule, the “fears of Article 356 being violated is being phased out now” due to the emergence of regional parties and coalition governments at Centre.
He, however pointed out that various challenges, like violence in conduct of free elections, have been tackled, but the “excessive use of money power is still a challenge to which we have to find a solution”. (PTI)

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