Highlighting the dangers of communalism, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday said a ‘Hindu Pakistan’ should not be created in India.
He was speaking in the Rajya Sabha while participating in a special discussion to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Quit India Movement.
Yechury referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments in the recent episode of his monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’ in which he had said that all out efforts should be made to end the problems of the country in five years from now, just like the period between 1942 and 1947 was a decisive one.
“Now, Sir, what is that objective? In 1947, we became Independent. We are all proud... In those five years, we also saw the partition of India. We saw the communal polarisation that led to this unfortunate partition, aided by the British. So, if you are alluding to those five years, there is an ominous sign. It is a very dark cloud,” Yechury said.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad immediately objected to Yechury’s remarks, saying the prime minister had spoken about unemployment, education etc.
“This is wrong quoting...It is going on the record and I must protest,” Prasad said, adding “today is a pious day, he should not talk against the prime minister”.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked Yechury to “please avoid controversies”.
Continuing his speech, the CPI(M) leader, whose term as Rajya Sabha member is coming to an end next week, said it was the prime minister who had said that communalism must quit India.
“I am talking of that communalism. It was the prime minister of India, and your leader, who said that communalism must quit India. I am asking, are we doing anything to make it quit,” Yechury asked.
He said that secularism and democracy were enshrined in our Constitution.
He said that the movement forward should be for strengthening the secular democratic republic of India and “not for creating a Hindu-Pakistan in India”.
Yechury also criticised the “neo-liberal” economic policies and held those responsible for disparity.
He said the divide between the rich and poor was widening. From 49 percent earlier, the amount of the country’s GDP held by 1 percent of the country’s population has risen to 58.4 per cent.
The need is to eliminate neo-liberal policies and communalism, Yechury said.
The CPI(M) leader recounted the contribution of several communist leaders in the fight against British rule. He said a lot of people in the cellular jail were communist leaders from Bengal and Punjab.
He, however, emphasised that attempts should not be made to appropriate the freedom struggle.
Yechury said there were two communist leaders - a maulana and a swami - who had moved a resolution for complete independence at a meeting of the Indian National Congress in 1921.
The Quit India movement belonged to the people and is a common heritage, he said.
Participating in the debate, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool Congress) recalled the contribution of freedom fighters in the country’s Independence.
However, he regretted that there were some traitors at that time also, who did not participate in the movement at that time.
There were parties at that time which sided with the British to derail the Quit India movement, Roy said.
“Even today, there are some traitors who threaten our brotherhood,” he said, adding that Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would launch ‘BJP Bharat chhodo andolan’ (BJP Quit India movement) from today.
At this juncture, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said politics should not be brought into this discussion which has to be at a higher level.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also said that at least for today, criticism should be left aside. Congress leader Anand Sharma, however, said that if something is a fact of history it must remain in the record.
Prasanna Acharya (BJD) said the need is not to create a Congress-free or BJP-free India but a corruption and communalism free India.
Veer Singh (BSP) spoke against the inequality in the society while Majeed Memon (NCP) spoke about mountains of hate being created and emphasised on the need to counter poverty and unemployment.
Kanimozi (DMK) said an atmosphere prevails today that not speaking Hindi or eating some food were seen by some as being less India. “Why have we become this?”.
She said that 50 percent of the population—the women
were still not being given their due and there were incidents like stalking and honour killings, a reference to the Chandigarh stalking case.
She said it was a sorry state of affairs that leaders were questioning the victims of stalking etc, asking why they were out late.
The DMK MP regretted that Parliament had been unable to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill and half of the population did not get proportional representation in the passing of laws.
Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena) said the Quit India movement was not the monopoly of any one party. He mentioned the contribution of Veer Savarakar and mill workers in the struggle.
Naresh Gujral (SAD) spoke about the sacrifices made by his family and the people as a whole. He said the need was to reflect collectively and not indulge in blame game.
D Raja (CPI) mentioned about the role played by communist leaders along with the Congress.
Union minister Ramdas Athawale, Rajni Patil (Congress) and A V Swamy also spoke.