Lok Sabha Adjourned After CPI Members Allege Rajnath Singh of Remarks on Modi
NEW DELHI: After two days of relative calm in the Lok Sabha during a debate on constitution, ruling party members and opposition traded charges when the lower house took up debate on intolerance. The house had to adjourned four times after a CPM MP Mohd Salim referred to a purported quote of home minister Rajnath Singh referring Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ‘hindu leader’. Home Minister denied the quote, and angry BJP members demanded that Salim apologize and withdraw his remarks.
The debate could only resume when the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the comment would not form part of the house records. When it did resume, the opposition benches launched a scathing attack on the BJP government saying that incidents of intolerance and violence has increased in the country against those who happen to hold a different opinion. Leading the attack from the treasury benches MP Meenakshi Lekhi termed the writers and artists returning their awards as intellectual mercenaries.
The debate was initiated by CPM’s Mohd Salim where he went on refer to a magazine article saying Rajnath Singh had said Modi was a hindu leader. Rajnath reacted sharply saying he has been hurt by the allegations. After four adjournments, when Salim resumed his speech he referred to PM’s speech in Lok Sabha where Modi had talked about 1200 years of foreign rule. The CPM MP then alleged that the BJP was trying to create divide between the hindu and muslims. He referred to intolerance in Afghanistan and Bangladesh also to suggest similar things could be underway in India also. India’s culture has been made over centurties it cannot be overturned in a day by a culture minister, Salim said in a oblique reference to minister Mahesh Sharma’s utterances.
“It is not Satyameya Jayate but Asatyameya Jayete...It is not Ashimsa Parmo Dharma but Himsha Parmo Dharma," he alleged.
Salim said those who have divergent views are asked to go to Pakistan. “We decided not top go to Pakistan, so did many muslims at time of partition. We have nurtured this land,” he added.
Congress member K C Venugopal cited all the incidents ranging from killings of activists, returning of awards to statements by various BJP Members which he said had contributed to atmosphere of intolerance, but the PM had not responded.
“No mature remark from the Prime Minister came even after series of incidents of intolerance," Venugopal said adding Inaction gave courage to intolerant forces.
He observed "we must differentiate between tolerant Hinduism and intolerant Hindutva."
However, the stringent attack on the opposition and those opposing the government came from BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi. Citing figures she said, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 2,715 communal incidents occurred in the country from the year 2011 to 2015 - on an average, about 57 communal incidents per month in last four years and 85 per cent of these incidents occurred in just seven States. All of them were either ruled by the Congress or the non-BJP Parties.” She added that incidents of communal violence have actually declined during the past 14-18 months.
In stringent counter attack on awards returning intellectuals, Lekhi said, “those rewards for political considerations and not the awards, which were genuinely sought. India is not becoming intolerant and there is absolutely no data to support this particular fact. In fact, this entire atmosphere is sought to be created to malign the image of a democratically-elected Government and that is why I call them intellectual mercenaries.”
“They are intellectual mercenaries because they are not concerned about how they are tarnishing the image; how they are affecting the relationships between communities; and how India needs to progress and get ahead on the ground of poverty and fight against poverty,” Lekhi added amidst thumping from the treasury benches.
She further charged, “award wapasi brigade never actually saw the point and the point is actually opposite of what they are protesting for- be it the carnage of Sikhs in 1984, riots at Nellie, Meerut, Hashimpura, Bhagalpur, Maliana or Muzaffarnagar recently. “ Lekhi added that the Government has banned 35 books throughout the country between 1950 and 2014. As against the 31 books banned by the Congress Government, the only book banned after this Government coming to power was on the orders of a Pune Court.
Lekhi cited her personal case to make point on intolerance. “personally have a grudge; I am going to make it very personal today. Referring to Shah Commission Report, she said her father-in-law was prosecutor and the reports were burnt. “How those people were haunted. We are personal witnesses to all that. Even the gas cylinders from the houses were taken away; and they talk about tolerance.”