Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday cautioned against "jihadist, Maoist and separatist" elements getting into student activism, and asserted protests fanned across the country will not derail the economic agenda.
The remarks come in the light of continued protests across many universities in the last few days following the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Sitharaman said she is not aware of what happened at New Delhi's Jamia Milia Islamia last night.
She hit out strongly against the “misguided” Congress party for backing "fringe groups" at universities which have shown Maoist or separatist tendencies.
Sitharaman alleged that the party which helped get freedom for India and should be disbanded after the independence does not have “nation building” as its agenda and focuses only on being “subservient” to one family.
“It is important of being sure that as a political party, we do not encourage in the student movements' garb, forces which are against the country. Student movement/protest is one, but it is a totally different thing to have jihadists or Maoists or separatist movements also getting into it and we've to be wary of that,” she said, speaking at the Times Network's India Economic Conclave in Mumbai.
She also seemed to suggest that the ongoing protests, which have been reported from the Northeast, West Bengal and the national capital, will not hurt the economic agenda.
“I'm confident that home minister Amit Shah and the PM are clearly seized of the way in which the society will have to be holding the economy,” she said.
“There's no undermining of India's unity and its economy is important...We can assure every step is being taken in order to ensure that India and the economy go forwards and benefit all,” she added.
Sitharaman said Amit Shah is speaking to leaders from the Northeast to address their concerns.
On the spate of protests against the government's moves at the universities, the former student activist said such agitations are due to the “idealism” of the young students and sought to differentiate agitations that hurt India's interests from the regular protests.
To critic's allegations over the CAA, Sitharaman countered it they were sleeping, and made it clear that the same move was part of the manifesto ahead of polls on which it was voted to power.
She said whipping up of people's emotions on issues like CAA only shows Congress' frustration because it has been continuously losing the political battles.
On the charge of running a government that works for the benefit of a few industrialists, Sitharaman said the people of the country outrightly rejected this when they voted Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a larger majority.
She said the allegations levelled by “soon to be” Congress President Rahul Gandhi are baseless and have no resonance with the people's wishes.