Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday took a veiled dig at the Congress, saying those who imposed Emergency rule in the country were now talking about constitutional principles.

Replying to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s attack on Thursday, Jaitley said fundamental rights were snatched during the Emergency. “During the Emergency, the government convinced the Supreme Court that during Emergency people lose the right to life and liberty provided under article 21 (of the constitution),” Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha.

“After the Emergency, article 21 was made non-suspendable, which means we are far more safe today. People who supported the Emergency are now talking about constitutionality. People lost the right to live during the Emergency,” he said, adding it was the “greatest challenge to democracy”.

Jaitley was speaking in the Upper House during a discussion to mark the 125th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, the main architect of the constitution.

Sonia Gandhi has said on Thursday that constitutional principles are being “deliberately attacked”. Talking about Ambedkar, Jaitley said: “Ambedkar was not just the architect of our constitution, but also a social reformer. Ambedkar fought against social evils. He showed the way to escape social injustice and showed the way to fight discrimination. Democracy has strengthened over the past 65 years. The constitution envisaged by Ambedkar rejected theocracy. It was not anti- or pro-religion. It said that the state will not discriminate on the basis of religion.”

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