After listening to allegations made by leaders of the opposition throughout the day on issues ranging from the death of Rohith Vemula at University of Hyderabad and the events at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani responded with an impassioned speech defending herself and her government.
She accused the Congress and the Left of politicising the death of Rohith and the events of JNU.
Congress MPs staged a walkout during her speech.
Highlights of her speech:
On Rohith Vemula
The Rohith Vemula issue was not the only case where the ministry intervened in Universities, her ministry intervenes in all cases.
‘I spoke about him (Rohith Vemula) as a kid and not as a Dalit student.
There was a face-off between TRS and me over the law and order situation in the state as a TRS MLA had told me to arrest Bandaru Dattatreya.
Rohith’s body was used as a political tool, a doctor was not allowed to visit him till 6:30 next morning.
The people in the Executive Committee who suspended Vemula were not appointed by NDA but by UPA, and a Dalit warden was co-opted into the committee.
Rahul Gandhi is an opportunist; he never went twice for the Telangana movement where 600 students died but this ‘child’ was used as political fodder.
Have you ever seen Rahul Gandhi go to one spot twice? No, he saw a political opportunity, so he went to JNU.
I have said it time and again that 'shiksha ko ranbhoomi mat banao', don’t make education a battleground.
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself,” she quotes Marcus Tullius Cicero, adding that if she had mentioned Chanakya, she would be accused of being 'saffron', hence she quoted a Roman philosopher.
Omar Khalid misled the JNU administration, he said in an application form that he was organizing a poetry reading session, but held a political event.
The University enquiry found all the accused students including Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid guilty of creating a law and order situation.
It was JNU faculty themselves who were found to be the organizers of the Afzal Guru event.
On Congress education policy
Slamming the Congress over its education policy, she said they introduced conflict between communities at a very young age. She referred to a book written by Teesta Setalvad, commissioned by Kapil Sibal during UPA, for teachers of students of class 4, and said that the reader created differences between students on religious lines.
She concluded by saying: ''I want you to help me build the nation and not destroy it from within.”