Engage in debate, not vandalism: Arun Jaitley’s message against rising intolerance

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Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday sent out a strong message to ally Shiv Sena in the aftermath of the protests in Mumbai on Monday over the meeting between India-Pakistan cricket officials. The finance minister said it was important to raise the level of debate instead of indulging in vandalism. “People indulging in vandalism should be strongly criticized,” Jaitley said. Also seeking to absolve his own party, he added, “I don’t think anybody in the BJP has resorted to these methods (vandalism).” “Past few days have seen an extremely disturbing trend where some people resorted to vandalism as an instrument to convey their views. What is disturbing is when these acts of vandalism are increasingly publicized, many are encouraged to use similar methods,” he said. Jaitley emphasized it was important that people indulging in this are strongly criticized. “All right thinking sections will have to distance themselves from such methodologies,” he added. “People using these methods must introspect whether they are adding to quality of democracy or reducing credibility of India as a country.” the finance minister said. He said he had no difficulty if people conveyed contrarian views as there was an essence of democracy in debate. Arun Jaitley also referred to the communally sensitive statements made by some BJP leaders recently over the Dadri lynching and the beef bans. “2-3 people have made such statements, party president has spoken to them in strong terms. PM has expressed his views. Spokespersons have conducted themselves in right spirit.”  Jaitley reiterated, “Sensitive issues like relationship between communities, J&K…everyone should be careful while making statements on these issues.” “In a large country like India there may be divergent views, but we’ve had a tradition of civility in conveying those different opinions,” the finance minister said. “Some of these issues are extremely serious, some can reflect on inter-community relations, others can reflect on sensitive areas such as J&K. Therefore, there has to be a proper civilized mode of discussing and debating these issues.”

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