Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar called CPI(M) MP John Brittas to discuss an article he wrote for The Indian Express critical of Home Minister Amit Shah.
In the piece titled “Perils of Propaganda” which appeared on February 20, Mr. Brittas accused the Home Minister of making frequent negative remarks against Kerala, adding that this betrays a “dislike” for a State where the BJP has “miserably failed in garnering electoral gains through its usual set of divisive tricks and polarising poll strategies.”
On March 6, the MP got a letter from the Vice-President’s office asking him to meet the Vice-President regarding a “complaint”that they have received about his article. The complaint was filed by the general secretary of the BJP’s Kerala unit, P. Sudheer who called the piece “divisive” and sought “suitable action” against his “seditious conduct.” A second reminder was sent to him on April 17.
On April 19, the MP met the Vice-President. Both the Vice-President’s office and Mr. Brittas remain mum about the interaction.
Mr. Brittas told The Hindu that the meeting was cordial and Mr. Dhankhar gave him a patient hearing. “I am, in fact, more astonished and baffled by the way BJP drags the constitutional positions into parochial political battles,” he said.
The Rajya Sabha secretariat has denied that the MP has been served a “show-cause” notice or a written explanation has been sought. The letter seeking his presence was only for an oral explanation, it insisted.
Many Opposition leaders have reacted sharply on the issue.
Congress MP Karti P. Chidambaram tweeted, “I guess John Brittas is being pulled up for articulating the truth.”
RJD MP Manoj Kumar Jha also spoke out against the action. “Ironically the statement of the minister was a brazen example of ‘sedition’ and not the response of John Brittas in his piece. But this entire episode tells us how the ‘deep state’ is working,” he tweeted.