NEW DELHI, Feb 24 - Sparks flew in the Lok Sabha today as the raging JNU row and suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula was taken up for discussion, with Opposition accusing the government of muzzling the voice of the youth and �mercilessly crushing� the principles of democracy.
To counter the Opposition onslaught, BJP targeted Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for his �support� to those standing with hanged Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and said the House has to decide if it stands with those who attacked Parliament or those who laid down their lives defending it.
The debate, on the first working day of Budget session, saw accusations and counter-accusations, with both ruling and Opposition sides underlining their credentials as �nationalists�.
Initiating the debate, Congress� chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia alleged �undue interference� by Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani and Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya in Vemula�s case. He also raised the issue of FTII, IIT Madras and JNU. �The government was trying to muzzle the voice of the youth,� he said.
Lambasting the government, Scindia attacked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram and Irani for emphasising that Vemula was not a Dalit.
From BJP side, Anurag Thakur raised the nationalist pitch over the JNU issue and attacked Congress, saying for that party, �it is �family first�, �party next� and �nation last�. For us, it is �nation first�, �party next� and �family last�.�
He alleged that Rahul Gandhi went to the university to support such outfits which were named by the previous UPA government as �frontal organisations� for Maoists.
�I want to ask Soniaji, why your young leader was standing with those who stand with Afzal Guru,� Thakur said addressing the Congress president who was present there.
He also alleged that when 74 security personnel were killed in a Naxal attack in Dantewada in Chattisgarh a few years back, there were celebrations in JNU.
Thakur also referred to the Batla House encounter in which a Delhi Police inspector had died in an encounter with terrorists and said that a Union Minister belonging to Congress had then said Sonia Gandhi �cried� over the death of terrorists.
�You did not go to the house of the martyred Inspector. Rahul Gandhi also could not go. But he went to JNU,� he said.
Earlier, Scindia termed as a joke the HRD Ministry�s decision following the JNU row that all universities must hoist Tricolour. � PTI