Exclusive: Ram Madhav says anti-national acts have to be tackled legally, asserts free speech not absolute

Posted on Thursday, 17 January 2019 | No Comments

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, speaking to India Today Magazine, vehemently defended the police, saying, “On sedition, you can’t be selective… If the affected people feel that the cases are not as per the law, let them argue in the court.” Talking about the general elections, the BJP leader said that there is no alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India and that the party has a plan to counter the alliance in Uttar Pradesh.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ram Madhav alleged that people in the elite section and intellentsia “champion the cause of anti-national elements”
  • He said that BJP will fight 2019 Lok Sabha elections on the agenda of development
  • He claimed that personal popularity of PM Narendra Modi has remained intact since 2014

The chargesheet against activists Kanhaiya Kumar and other former JNU students has opened the debate once again on the sedition law. Even as questions are being raised on charging these former students and activists with sedition, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, speaking to India Today Magazine, vehemently defended the police, saying, “On sedition, you can’t be selective If the affected people feel that the cases are not as per the law, let them argue in the court.” Talking about the general elections, the BJP leader said that there is no alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India and that the party has a plan to counter the alliance in Uttar Pradesh.

Q: It does seem like the Union government is overreacting by charging Kanhaiya Kumar and others with sedition. Do students need to be charged with sedition?

A: The public is happy that those who pedal anti-national activities and ideas have to be tackled through due legal procedure. There are a number of people in the elite section and intelligentsia who always champion the cause of anti-national elements. They must be very unhappy. The country at large is convinced that whatever is happening is as per the law of the land. Nothing illegal is happening. If the affected people feel that the cases are not as per the law, let them argue in the court. On sedition, you can’t be selective. Sedition is a charge framed under certain rules. Every sedition charge has to be proved in the court of law. So there is judicial scrutiny. But you can’t say, ‘na, na bacche hai..unke upar matt lagao (spare them, they are kids).’ Thirty year olds are not kids. They know what they are doing.

Q: But if you paint sloganeering as anti-national, what does that do to freedom of speech?

A: You see, my freedom ends where your nose begins. You cannot go on abusing the country, use foul language, talk about breaking India into pieces and say this is my freedom of speech. Such freedom of speech has certain constitutional restraints. You can’t simply argue that I should have full freedom to say whatever I want to say. Public order, morality, national order, welfare-these are conditions by which all rights are restricted. They are not absolute. If anybody feels what is happening is unjust, you always have the judiciary which is independent. You have judicial recourse.

Q: How are you hoping to repeat the 2014 performance of BJP in 2019?

A: We will go back to the people with two major strengths: The Prime Minister’s personal popularity – which remains intact in the last five years. We will also go back to the development agenda we have implemented. Close to 22 crore families have benefited through various programmes that the Modi government has undertaken. So, we will go to the people with these two central themes: PM Modi and his five years of governance. Looking at the larger political picture, there is no single party which is ready to challenge the BJP or PM Modi. It is also equally clear that this whole effort to create the Mahagathbandhan has also come to a naught. It has become a nonstarter. Regional gathbandhans are coming together. The whole idea that all of us should come together with the singular purpose of stalling Modi, that grand idea seems to be a non starter. Different state alliances are emerging and we have our counter-strategy in place in states like UP. In the Hindi heartland, we have peaked in our performance in 2014. So, naturally, we have to get additional seats in areas where we have not done that well – like East India and South India. We are confident of increasing our numbers substantially in the North-East. We will be able to add not less than ten seats to the existing tally in that region. In Bengal and Orissa, we are hoping to do well and pick up substantial number of seats. In the South, we don’t have a clear picture because it depends on the alliances that we are able to forge. Our opposition will not be in a position to really challenge us at the national level. Alternative to Modi-ji is instability leading to anarchy. There is no stable alternative available. I don’t want to do any predictions. Nowadays it is not easy to predict elections. People are very politically alert. But I am confident that the party will be able to retain its strength, if not get more seats.

Q: There is a lot of concern around the crisis in the CBI and the credibility challenge it poses.

A: The CBI’s credibility problem is not today’s problem. I remember we use to call it the ‘Congress Bureau of Investigation’ in the past. So, in order to set those things right, sometimes some drastic steps needed to be taken. And our government has done that. Whatever was needed to be done to set the course right in CBI through due process was done by our government.

Author: Ram Madhav

National General Secretary, BJP; Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation

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