New Delhi/ Nagpur: A fierce row erupted in Parliament today during a debate on ‘rising intolerance’, over a controversial comment attributed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh by Left lawmaker Mohammad Salim. The uproar forced the first adjournment of the Lok Sabha since the winter session began last Thursday. There were 10 developments, as follows:
Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanded an apology after Mr Salim said that he had been quoted as saying, after Narendra Modi and BJP’s victory last year, that India had the first “Hindu ruler after 800 years.”
“I have never been hurt as much as I have been today in my entire Parliamentary career,” Mr Singh said, adding: “When did I say this? He should prove it or apologise.” The ruling BJP demanded that Mohd. Salim withdraw the remarks for the debate to continue.
Mr Salim read out the comment from a newsmagazine and challenged Rajnath Singh to send notice to the publication for quoting him wrongly.
As the argument took place in the Lok Sabha, many tweets said the comment was wrongly attributed to the Home Minister, and that it was Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal who said it.
After repeated disruptions, the debate resumed after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said Mr Salim’s remarks would not be a part of the proceeding.
The Congress party’s KC Venugopal accused the government of “politics of communalism” and using Hinduism for political interests.
The BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi shot back, saying: “This atmosphere is being created to malign the image of a democratically elected government.”
The discussion on the perceived rise in “intolerance” in the country – a subject that has ranged the opposition against the BJP-led government for several weeks – will not be followed by voting.
Incidents like the killing of rationalists, mob attacks over cow slaughter and beef-eating rumours and controversial pronouncements by members of the ruling BJP or groups linked to it have been held up by opposition parties as examples of growing intolerance under the current regime.
A number of writers, artistes and filmmakers have returned their national awards to protest against what they believe is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s inadequate response to these incidents.