Finance minister Arun Jaitley is among the best orators in Parliament. On Friday, as the Rajya Sabha discussed the constitution and intolerance, Jaitley delivered a fine performance during which he reminded the Opposition benches that those who are attacking the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over perceived intolerance belong to the party that actually suspended civil liberties and suspended the constitution by declaring the Emergency in 1975.
And then in a masterful move, he traced the parallels between how Hitler's Nazi party subverted a democratic constitution in Germany in 1933 and how Indira Gandhi did the same in India in 1975. Proclamation of emergency under false pretexts, detention of opposition members, censorship of newspapers and announcement of a 25-point economic programme in the interest of Germany were the steps Jaitley attributed to Hitler. He didn't have to spell out the parallels with Indira Gandhi's decisions in 1975 because it was evident to the members in attendance. There was cheering from the treasure benches and silence from the opposition benches. But the icing on the cake came when he referenced deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess' speech, The Oath to Adolf Hitler, where he said: where he said: "Adolf Hitler is Germany and Germany is Adolf Hitler". No one needed reminding of Devakanta Barua's infamous proclamation, India is Indira and Indira is India.
The speech is significant because it turns the tables on the critics of Modi who frequently compare him with Hitler for his majoritarian politics, his frequent invocation of a glorious past and the promise of development at any cost and a governance style that is seen to be authoritarian. Jaitley was underscoring the fact that it is those who followed in Hitler's footsteps that are now accusing Modi of intolerance.
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