New Delhi: In the spirit of dialogue, Home Minister P Chidambaram has invited a Maoist-sympathiser and student of JNU to have a cup of tea in his office and to debate what she called the government`s `anti-people policies`.
Chidambaram who visited JNU campus last night to
address a seminar on `Naxalism: A Threat to Indian Democracy
and Internal Security` organised by NSUI, the student wing of
Congress Party, extended the invitation after being bombarded
with questions by the girl who is pursuing her doctorate in
Economics from the University.
"Mr Chidambaram, we want our freedom of speech,"
shouted Vibha supported by a fellow girl student just as the
Minister was concluding his speech.
Sensing discomfort by the minister, NSUI leaders and
security personnel tried to pacify the duo, who refused to
stop shouting until finally it caught Chidambaram`s attention
and he beckoned the two students closer.
"Who is that lady. Please come here and kindly sit
down," he said.
Meanwhile, female security personnel dressed in plain
clothes had started pulling out students out of the hall,
which infuriated the minister who had come dressed in a blue
shirt and khakhi pants a contrast to his white dhoti shirt
Pointing to her, he said in a harsher tone, "Ask that
lady (police) to come here. Why did you pull her? Why do you
guys stand everywhere? Go and sit down."
At the interaction Vibha who was given the first
chance to speak questioned Chidambaram on the rationale behind
the imposition of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act )in
Manipur and the suppression of Gandhian protest by Irom
"Your facts are totally wrong. You get them from
newspapers and magazines which do not have the original
documents. I would not fault you for that and if I was of your
age, I would have also done the same," said Chidambaram.
"Many governments were there before UPA which
continued AFSPA and I wish you were as passionate at that time
also. I was first minister to propose that either this act
should be amended or repealed," he said.
"Consensus is needed for that and different political
parties have different views on the issue but I am working on
that," he added.
The girl was not satisfied with the minister`s answer.
When she tried to ask another question, the seasoned
politician said on a lighter note, "My duty is to give an
answer. Not to give the answer which you want to hear."
"People like you should come to power through
democratic means and change the policies if you do not like
them, but do not take up arms," he said pointing to her.
Pointing out to Arjun Sengupta Committee according to
which 77 percent Indians live on Rs 20 or less per day, the
minister said, "If that is true, how can India have 60 crore
mobile phones. This is a simple parameter to negate the
report. I am sure I can help you being a better economist."
"I invite you for a personal debate on Vedanta. Come
to my office, we will have tea and discuss," he said.
The offer has gone well with the student. "I will try
contacting Meenakshi Natrajan and fix a meeting with him. But
he should have been more willing to interact with students. A
hall of 200 students is too small. Like Rahul Gandhi, he
should have interacted in an open ground and faced tough
questions," said Vibha.
Natrajan an MP from Madhya Pradesh is in core team of