Drafted by ‘tukde-tukde’ friends: Arun Jaitley

The finance minister chose to focus on national security and attacked the Congress for allegedly compromising it

By J.P. Yadav in New Delhi
  • Published 3.04.19, 3:04 AM
  • Updated 3.04.19, 3:04 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Arun Jaitley at the news conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. Picture by Prem Singh

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday termed the Congress’s manifesto “an agenda for the Balkanisation of India” that was “dangerous and un-implementable” and aimed to “protect Maoists and jihadists”, seizing on the promise to review laws related to “national security” while downplaying the welfare schemes and jobs.

“Some of the ideas are positively dangerous. They are an agenda for the Balkanisation of India. Even though there was a drafting committee, it appears that some of the important points have been drafted by the Congress president’s friends in the ‘tukde-tukde gang’ when it deals with Jammu and Kashmir and national security,” Jaitley, who was fielded by the BJP to counter the Congress’s manifesto, told the media.

The “tukde-tukde gang” is a Right wing coinage to initially refer to a section of JNU students after the 2016 campus unrest, but now used against those who the BJP and its ideological brethren think are out to divide India.

Jaitley chose to focus on national security and attack the Congress for allegedly compromising it, terming the Lok Sabha poll manifesto a “tukde-tukde manifesto” while seeking to play down the main aspects — welfare schemes and jobs. The BJP wants the polls to be fought on the agenda of national security.

The finance minister accused the Nehru-Gandhi family of committing a “historical blunder” on Jammu and Kashmir and claimed that Rahul Gandhi was taking the “same agenda dangerously forward”. He picked on the Congress’s promise to repeal Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code and claimed that sedition would no longer be a crime if the Opposition party had its way.

Jaitley claimed the manifesto intended to change the CrPC and underlined the portion that said “bail is the rule and jail is the exception”, saying the Congress wanted to apply it to “terrorists and hardcore criminals” also. “This is aimed to protect Maoists and jihadists,” he said.

Jaitley claimed that the Congress was seeking to dilute the provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and also the presence of the armed forces in Kashmir. “The party that makes this kind of announcements doesn’t deserve a single vote,” he said.

According to the finance minister, the Congress’s proposal to allow criminal cases against armed forces in disturbed areas was a “sin” and against national security. “Those people who lay down their lives for the country, you want them to be prosecuted at the behest of terrorists or their friends. Ingratitude is the biggest sin that any political party can commit,” he said.

“The Congress is the principal creator of the Jammu and Kashmir problem. It created a special status; it unconstitutionally brought in Article 35A. It rigged the 1957, 1962, 1967 and also the 1988 Assembly elections,” Jaitley said.

“This eroded the confidence of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and now its (Congress’s) manifesto only brings smiles on the faces of the separatists and the terrorists. A reference to ‘Kashmiri Pandits’ and their ethnic cleansing from the Valley is conspicuously absent in the manifesto,” Jaitley wrote in a blog.

BJP leaders appeared euphoric that the manifesto, released by Rahul, had played into their hands by promising to review the sedition law and the AFSPA. “We have now got a basis to accuse the Congress of acknowledging that ‘desh droh’ (sedition) is not a crime and that the country should be soft towards terrorists and anti-nationals,” a BJP leader said.

Jaitley said the choice before the electorate was clear: “between one party which is admittedly soft on terror and the other that wants a hard approach”.

He dubbed “bluff” Rahul’s promised minimum income guarantee scheme — NYAY. The BJP leader claimed that NYAY had now become a joint scheme of the central and state governments and that it was a dilution of the initial announcement.

According to Jaitley, the Congress wants to fund NYAY from the “future expansion of the economy” and said it was like “a hen will give eggs and those eggs will be hatched to produce more hens and then the money will come”.

“The manifesto compromises national security and has sham and bluff promises with little detailed understanding of the subjects involved. It is an irresponsible document which has never to be implemented since Congress looks a certain loser,” Jaitley wrote.

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