New Delhi: Citing a complaint by a senior woman journalist of a leading daily of threats to her life from RSS and VHP "elements", Congress on Thursday sought action in the case and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde promptly ordered an inquiry.
Utilising the opportunity, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken called a press conference and attacked Narendra Modi asking what he will do to freedom of expression if he came to power.
Maken said the journalist had filed a complaint with Parliament Street Police Station on October 15 in which she had complained about threats being issued to her on phone following an article she had written in her paper.
She had written that the RSS had reneged on its written undertaking to the then Home Minister Sardar Patel that it would not be a political organisation.
Maken wrote a letter to Shinde demanding that the matter should be looked into urgently and the guilty are brought to book at the earliest. On receiving it, the Home Minister ordered a probe into the case.
"I have directed the Home Secretary to conduct a probe through the Delhi Police. The Home Secretary has already asked the Delhi Police to initiate the probe," he said.
Shinde said in democracy people should have the perseverance to bear criticism and threats are not good. There could be comments but attacking journalists are not good.
Seeking to draw parallels, Maken said journalists write many pieces against Congress and its leaders as well, which are not to the liking of the party but that never led to the party attacking or attempting to check their freedom of expression.
Maken attacked Modi on various other issues. He said that there is a provision in the Gujarat`s Lokpal bill that no newsperson can report the proceedings of Lokpal and those doing so could be punished with a penalty of Rs two lakh and an imprisonment of one year.
Seeking to portray Modi as an "intolerant" politician, he said no assembly session in Gujarat is complete without throwing Opposition MLAs out of the House.
There are vacancies in Information Commission in Gujarat, where posts have not been filled up despite court intervention and Gujarat CAG report was not discussed in Assembly.
"On the one hand, the Gujarat Chief Minister is laying the foundation stone for the statue of Sardar Patel and on the other hand, Modi, his party workers and RSS activists are attacking the basic foundation of the nation.
"Many times one feels if they mount such attacks on the reedom of expression when they are in opposition, what will they do in case they get power. When they install the statue of Patel, they should also learn to follow Patel`s ideals," Maken said.
In his letter, Maken drew Shinde`s attention to the police complaint filed by the woman journalist, saying it pertains to serious threats of physical harm and even bombing by elements claiming to be affiliated to the RSS and VHP.
"The Congress Party is committed to freedom of the Press, dominance of truth in public discourse and non-violence. Bringing the episode to a speedy and logical conclusion will only be in line with our professed principles".
Responding to reporters` queries on Modi`s speech accusing Congress of doing vote bank politics, Maken hit back saying "it`s BJP, which does it. They have been engaging in this majority vote bank politics since independence, something which was Patel opposed to. Patel was of the clear view that BJP was vitiating the atmosphere."