New Delhi: The right to hold a political opinion different from that of a ruling party is "more endangered" than the right to free speech, noted lawyer Indira Jaisingh said here today.
"While I believe that the right to free speech is endangered in today's context, I feel that the right to hold a political opinion which is different from that of the ruling party is even more endangered.
"I reject the interpretation of the Constitution placed by BJP in its (National Executive Meeting) resolution. My fidelity to the Constitution does not include the vision that BJP has of the Constitution of India," she said while addressing students in JNU.
Jaisingh, the first woman Additional Solicitor General of India appointed in 2009, was in JNU to participate in the 'Azaadi lectre series'. The topic of her talk tonight was 'What does fidelity to the Constitution mean'.
"I have seen two moments in the history of this country which kind of mirror or parallel each other. One was the Emergency which was declared on June 26, 1976...Which was both an erosion of the form and substance of the Constitution because it was done in the name of 'internal disturbance'.
"And today, we are seeing a parallel moment where we see the subversion of the form and content of the Constitution and the abandonment of accountability in the name of nationalism and anti-nationalism," she said.
Jaisingh said "Dr Ambedkar said that it's possible to remain completely faithful to the letter of the Constitution and yet subvert the spirit of the Constitution. That's another way of being a traitor to the Constitution.
"We are seeing some such thing happening today. There was a manufactured debate on what it is to be national and anti-national. In an attempt to curb freedom of expression, they're denying to us the very right to think," she said.
Addressing the students at the administration block, which has been the venue of protests ever since JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in a sedition case over an event marking the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Jaisingh said it's time for the citizens to focus on "political rights".
"This Constitution has been amended more than a 100 times since it?was granted?and there was nothing subversive in demanding that the Indian Constitution be changed to guarantee some of these rights, to include some political rights and, for example, abolish death penalty?completely as being against Article 21.
"For 67 years, we've been talking about our social and economic rights. I think it's time for us to now start focusing on our political rights," she said.