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Conversion row: BJP refuses to blink, House impasse continues

Government on Wednesday again rejected opposition’s demand for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in the Rajya Sabha during the discussion on forcible religious conversions. Briefing reporters, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu, said though the Prime Minister would come to Rajya Sbha on Thursday, but there is no proposal of any statement by him on the issue. Naidu was accompanied by his ministerial colleagues Ravi Shanlar Prasad  and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Naidu accused the opposition of disrupting the proceedings of the House in spite of government’s readiness to hold discussion on the issue. The Minister said though the issue was listed for discussion on Wednesday, the opposition parties did not allow the Home Minister to speak.

The Minister rejected the Opposition’s assertion that there was panic in the country on conversion.

“Opposition parties are unnecessarily making it an issue,” Naidu said and urged the Opposition to co-operate with the government for smooth functioning of Parliament.

He also objected to some Opposition leaders’ comments against Prime Minister for his absence in the House. Earlier in the morning Hanumantha Rao of the Congress was suspended from Rajya Sabha for the day for ‘indiscipline’ as he demanded presence of the Prime Minister in the House despite the chairman asking him to return to his seat. Members of some opposition parties like Congress and Samajwadi Party created uproar over this decision and wanted it to be revoked but to no avail, leading to the adjournment.   

When the house reassembled, another opposition member in Rajya Sabha, this time Derek O’Brien from the Trinamool Congress pointed out that the Prime Minister was present in the Parliament complex but not coming to the House despite the demand of the members. O’Brien’s sharp remarks invited loud protests from the treasury benches leading to another round of ruckus and later adjournment.

Later in the evening, briefing mediapersons Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said that unless Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives assurance to the country on conversion issue, it will not allow the House to function. Sharma alleged that BJP MPs and its affiliates have been making provocative statements as part of a strategy to fan communal passions.

Criticising the government for holding the Opposition responsible for disrupting proceedings, the spokesman said, his party supports discussion and debate on any issue. He said, due to government’s rigid stand, the Rajya Sabha is not able to transact business.

Sharma said, despite Modi’s statement on derogatory remarks of Union Minister Niranjan Jyoti, BJP MPs continued to violate the Constitution flagrantly.
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