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Chidambaram Invites JNU Girl Over For Tea

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
PTI May 06, 2010 13:07 IST
PTI
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 image.

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 Sharmila there.

"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 I was first minister to propose that either this act should be amended or repealed," he said.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 per cent 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 Rahul Gandhi. PTI