Sandeep Dikshit leaves Khurshid stumped on FCRA crackdown issue

A day after Greenpeace India said its registration has been cancelled, former Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit today claimed it was the party that had started the "trend" that led to action against organisations which raise "questions" and said "we can't only blame BJP" in this regard.

PTI| Updated: Nov 07, 2015, 15:59 PM IST

New Delhi : A day after Greenpeace India said its registration has been cancelled, former Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit today claimed it was the party that had started the "trend" that led to action against organisations which raise "questions" and said "we can't only blame BJP" in this regard.

At a panel discussion here on the Nehruvian ideals of 'Justice', Dikshit left Salman Khurshid, a Congress heavyweight, stumped with his questions as he also accused the party of having taken a "contradictory" stand on the issue of economic growth and environment protection.

"FCRA was a law brought by us. Why is it that FCRA was changed to make it more and more difficult for organisations that question the government. We today say that this (NDA) government does not allow questions... Congress started that trend; we can't only blame the BJP for action against Greenpeace," Dikshit said.

In a bid to play down the remarks, Khurshid, who held the External Affairs portfolio in the previous UPA government, nudged Dikshit to talk to "Mr (P) Chidambaram over lunch". The former finance minister was also present in the audience.

"Sir, I am sorry but your answer has given me the answer," was Dikshit's response to Khurshid.

On the issue of environment, Dikshit, a former East Delhi MP, said that Congress could not resolve the contradiction between environment protection and growth despite enacting major laws on shielding the nature from adverse impact of development.

"Were those Acts wrong or was there an issue that we could not settle? Why is it that the PM (Manmohan Singh) was forced to make statements on one line? You are PM, you are the government, if you believe the environment laws are wrong, change them.

"If you believe growth is anti-environment, then convince us that that was so," he said.

Deputy Director of environment NGO CSE, Chandra Bhushan, Dalit rights activist Wilson Bezwada, JNU professor Archana Prasad and DU professor Aditya Narayan Mishra were the other panelists at the session.

Greenpeace India yesterday said that its registration to operate in the country had been cancelled, alleging that it marked yet another action as part of a crackdown on NGOs.

Claiming that its registration as a society has been cancelled by the Registrar of Societies in Tamil Nadu, Greenpeace India had alleged that the action was an extension of the "deep intolerance" for differing viewpoints which the government was "harbouring" and asserted that it would seek legal "redress".