Union Minister Arun Jaitley
Union Minister Arun Jaitley

In remembrance of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Jaitley attacks Congress on free speech

ANI | Updated: Jul 06, 2018 21:49 IST

New Delhi [India], July 6 (ANI): On the 117th birth anniversary of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee on Friday, Union Minister Arun Jaitley criticised the Congress party for amending the Constitution in 1951 to restrict the Jan Sangh founder from advocating 'Akhand Bharat'.
While recalling a "forgotten chapter" from the past on Facebook, Jaitley said that former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was against the idea of 'Akhand Bharat' and therefore he went ahead with the first amendment of the Constitution.
"The restriction (brought by the first amendment) is very broadly worded. It empowers the State to prohibit free speech if it adversely impacts 'friendly relations with foreign states'. The State can even make the exercise of speech in this regard as a penal offence," Jaitley said.
He added that two days before the "Nehru-Liaquat Pact" was to be signed in April 1950, 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 treaty.
"Nehru over-reacted to Mookerjee's criticism. He interpreted the very idea of 'Akhand Bharat' as an invitation to conflict since the country could not be reunited other than by war," Jaitley wrote.
Comparing the Congress rule to the current BJP-led government, Jaitley said: "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."
Born in Calcutta on July 6, 1901, Mookerjee served as a cabinet minister under then-prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, before quitting the Congress party and founding the Jan Sangh. (ANI)

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