The BJP government has divided the Opposition parties, scaring someone by using ED [Enforcement Directorate], someone else by using the Income Tax Department, someone else by using the NIA [National Investigation Agency]. These days, we see a lot of politics of fear and politics of fixing. I have never seen this kind of politics ever. When we were young in politics, someone would say that don’t harass him, he is the BJP financer. Today they [BJP] will find you and ask you to say that you are from Congress, you are from SP [Samajwadi Party], you are from BSP [Bahujan Samaj Party], you are associated with Mamata [Banerjee], so that we can put you behind bars. They don’t even talk. Honourable Prime Minster, you can’t understand how much fear is there in the country. You can’t see them while you are in the government. This fear is not good. If an officer is afraid of not working enough, that is good. I think I have made the first strong law in the world against officers caught for corruption on duty, the law says that the officer’s property should be attached. There is fear from this law, but the fear which comes whenever I visit an Opposition party politician or talk to him over phone [is not good]. [People] can’t do business or run an institution [in this atmosphere].
Honourable Prime Minister, this fear is not good for the country and democracy. There should be freedom of speech, freedom of socialising, freedom of business. No one wants to talk on the phone because of phone tapping. I haven’t ever heard of phone tapping even during the era of BJP. Till now, I have seen that terrorists phone are tapped. First time when I became the Chief Minister, we use to tap the phone of terrorists. In my tenure of 3 years, no one dared to ask me or suggest that we should tap the phone of any leaders, even of the Opposition, except terrorists, in a sensitive state like Kashmir. [By tapping phones] you have made every one of us as international terrorists, you have made Opposition a terrorist. If you are winning [elections due to] this fear, then what kind of win is this? I have seen this in Gujarat though I didn’t publicise it much there. People said to me, here it is said that if there are 1,000 votes in a place than 700 is of BJP. If the vote count goes above 700 then you have voted for us, and if it remains at 700 then we will not spare you. What way is this of garnering votes? You garner votes based on threat and fear. If we [Congress] had to rule the country like this, we would have ruled for 70 years to 200 years.
You can listen to the entire speech by Ghulam Nabi Azad here:
Transcribed and translated by Zaheeb Ajmal