Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slammed the Congress on Tuesday for its handling of the controversial Ishrat Jehan case and said that the motive was to fix political rivals.
He also accused the Congress-led UPA government of compromising national security.
"You (Congress-led UPA) colluded with the accused... You allowed them bail... And in the process, you un-bared the entire security apparatus of India. All this was done because you wanted to fix a political leader... That was not intolerance, that was the law," he said, addressing the Congress benches with apparent reference to PM Narendra Modi, who was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
The FM further said in the Rajya Sabha, "Case wasn't about simply changing an affidavit. For 90 days chargesheet wasn't filed for people who were involved."
Jaitley said in 2013, he had written an article, saying, "Governments are not immortal, they change and I hope once this government changes, some day an inquiry will be held on how this compromise with national security was taking place. At that time, you thought no one can remove your government."
To a retort from Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad that intelligence agencies are "not sacrosanct", Jaitley said, "In a country which is repeatedly a victim of terrorism, more particularly cross-border terrorism, our agencies have to struggle to keep pace with those who want to subvert India," as per PTI.
His attack on Congress came in the midst of new claims, including by former Home Secretary GK Pillai, that the affidavit in the case had been changed at "political level" to drop mention of Ishrat's alleged links to terrorism.
Meanwhile, on India's policy towards Pakistan, he said, "We're compelling Pakistan for the first time to own up that attack on Indian soil is happening from their soil, it's never happened."
To hit back, he attacked previous UPA government by raking up the 'Sharm el-Sheikh' episode, saying "you agreed to hold talks with Pakistan irrespective of whether terrorism stops or not."
Underlining that unity of the country is "paramount", the senior minister referred to the JNU incident and said, "if we have to keep this country together, then obviously we have to make sure that the space for those who speak in the break up of this country, itself, that space if not narrowed down, it should be completely eliminated."
"In the name of freedom of thought, freedom of expression, I have no hesitation in saying that both my party and the government are absolutely clear that anybody who raises a voice against the sovereignty and integrity of India, we are certainly against them. We will discourage them and we will ask the law to take its own course," he said.
Jaitley said Congress has been a mainstream party and was personally very surprised to see it supporting a 'fringe'.
Answering to Opposition's criticism on a range of issues, he claimed that there was an overall improvement in security, price rise, foreign policy during this government and debunked the attack on the issue of intolerance.
"You talk about intolerance. During Delhi polls, a news about attacks on religious places of a particular community was played up and an image was created the world over that it was political atrocity. Was it a political conspiracy? When police investigated, they were found to be cases of theft or simple vandalism under the effect of liquor. But you used it during Delhi elections," he said.
"In West Bengal a nun was assaulted and a Bangladeshi was arrested for it. This happened in a state (not ruled by BJP), but you gave it a political colour.Today the debate on intolerance is who will be the chairman of an institution. I have read history and remember that when a singer did not sing in a Youth Congress programme, he was debarred from AIR," the FM added.
At the same time, the BJP leader exhorted the Opposition to work in tandem with the government saying, "We don't need obstructive environment in country, we have to work together to fight basic issues like poverty."
(With PTI inputs)