Bhagwat remarks to bolster protests in RS

Bhagwat remarks to bolster protests in RS

As the winter session of Parliament enters its last leg, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks on religious conversions have added fuel to the Opposition’s fire, dashing the government's hopes of conducting legislative business.

Already furious over “inflammatory remarks” by BJP MPs and ministers in the Modi government, a united Opposition is expected to raise the issue of Bhagwat’s strong support to “ghar waapsi”, or religious “re-conversion”, on the remaining two days of the session.

The Left parties accused the BJP and the RSS of double-speak on religious conversions.
“In fact, the RSS campaign for forcible re-conversion and the call for a law to ban forcible conversions are both directed against religious minorities and intended to use the issue of conversion to sharpen communal divisions,” said the CPM politburo in a statement.

The issue is expected to be raised on Monday in Parliament, which is already witnessing protests and disruptions by the Opposition on the issue. The Opposition has been unable to make any significant impact in the Lok Sabha, where the BJP-led NDA enjoys majority.

But, the Rajya Sabha, where the Opposition has the upper hand, has remained paralysed for the past few days, derailing the government’s legislative agenda for the session.

“Why should we sacrifice the Opposition’s unity by supporting the government on key pieces of legislations?” asked a Congress leader, indicating that disruptions would continue in the Rajya Sabha.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu made an appeal to the Opposition to allow the Rajya Sabha to function. “I appeal to the Opposition. Please don’t obstruct public interest and development,” he said in Hyderabad.

The government had hoped to get Parliament's nod for its economic reform initiative—the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill and the Companies (Amendment) Bill.  The fate of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, which seeks to replace the ordinance promulgated by the Centre after the Supreme Court cancelled coal block allocations made since 1993, also hangs in the balance. The Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha, but is stuck due to stalemate in the Rajya Sabha.

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