Bengal governor C.V. Ananda Bose on Sunday said there ought to be no compromise on the freedom of speech in a democracy such as India.
Despite the absence of elaboration, the timing of his remark prompted claims from the Left and the Congress that it was significant against the backdrop of Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as a Lok Sabha member. But the BJP begged to differ.
“There cannot be a compromise on the freedom of speech in a democracy, such as what India has,” said Bose on his way out of an event at the Calcutta Press Club in response to questions from journalists. There was no mention of Rahul or his disqualification as the Wayanad MP in either the questions or his answer.
However, the Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury expressed happiness at Bose’s statement. “Happy that the governor said so. It was only expected of him,” said the Behrampore MP.
“Any reasonable democratic individual will agree that freedom of speech must not be curtailed at any cost. It must be remembered that he is a constitutional head with no executive powers. It has to be seen what is done in practice,” he added.
CPM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty, too, welcomed the remark, adding the state’s ruling Trinamul Congress also to the context.
“Being the constitutional head of the state, he has done the right thing by speaking in favour of the freedom of speech. Neither the state government he heads nor the government at the Centre is on the same page with regard to this. Both the governments are willing to do all that it takes to silence any sort of dissent,” said Chakraborty.
The BJP claimed the remark was solely in the context of the state of affairs in Bengal under Trinamul.
“The governor is an able and intelligent individual. In his few months of stay in Bengal, he has realised that there is no freedom of speech in the state and all constitutional bodies are being taken over by the state government,” said the BJP’s state chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.
“He has seen that the Opposition is attacked by the ruling party, even physically. What he said was in the context of the state, and has got nothing to do with the issue of Rahul Gandhi,” he added.