New Delhi: A Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Uttar Pradesh, Rakesh Rathore, has criticised his own party’s government in the state and also said that he is afraid to say too much as that might lead to sedition charges against him.
In remarks, NDTV reported, Rathore also alleged that MLAs have no say in the functioning of the UP government and their suggestions are not heeded. Rathore is the MLA from Sitapur.
“I have taken many steps, but vidhayakon ki haisiyat kya hai (what stature do MLAs have)? If I speak too much, then sedition charges may be invoked against me,” he reportedly said. Rathore was responding to a query on a government trauma centre in Sitapur, which has been constructed but not yet operationalised.
When probed on whether he was saying MLAs had no say in the government, Rathore continued, “Do you think MLAs can speak their mind? You know I have raised questions in the past.”
This is not the first time Rathore has openly disagreed with and criticised the Yogi Adityanath administration in Uttar Pradesh or the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. In April last year, he was served a notice by the BJP after an audio clip purportedly featuring him went viral. In the clip, the speaker can be heard saying the idea of beating plates to defeat the coronavirus as “breaking the record for foolishness”. This was a reaction to Modi’s announcement that everyone must bang their utensils to thank frontline warriors together.
The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has hit India hard. Rural areas in Uttar Pradesh are said to be particularly badly affected. Dead bodies have also been washing up on the shores of the Ganga or found buries at the banks of the river, as costs and waiting times for cremations skyrocket.
Though the Supreme Court has reiterated time and again that sedition charges should only be invoked if written or spoken words “have the effect of bringing contempt or dissatisfaction or the idea of subverting government by violent means”, police and governments in several parts of the country often use the section to harass those who criticise the government.