Centre puts onus on states to deal with conversion

Venkaiah says government has no role

Centre puts onus on states to deal with conversion

As the Opposition stepped up heat on the issue of religious conversion, the Centre on Monday told Parliament that it was “nowhere in the picture” and the onus was squarely on the state governments to take action.

The Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal-United and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) cornered the government in  the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha accusing it of raking up such issues instead of fulfilling promises like bringing back black money and creating employment opportunities for the youth.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated adjournments with SP member Naresh Agarwal demanding that the House suspend all business and discuss the re-conversion or “ghar wapsi” issue.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia’s statements supporting re-conversions had infuriated the Opposition. “We would like to know from the government whether it will condemn these statements. Venkaiah Naidu had said he was proud of his Sangh Parivar links,” Congress deputy whip in the Lok Sabha K C Venugopal said raising the issue during the Zero Hour. He cited reports of re-conversions in Kerala and Gujarat.

Distancing the government from these incidents, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the onus was on the state government to take action.

“The Centre is nowhere in the picture. If any individual violates the law, then the law must take its course. As far as incidents in Kerala are concerned, the state government unfortunately belongs to Venugopal’s party. They have not taken action,” Naidu said.

Dissatisfied with the government’s response, the Congress staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha.

In the Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s plea that a discussion on the issue was inadmissible since the debate had been taken up once and was drowned in the uproar created by the Opposition.

“You don’t need a 56-inch chest to come here, you just need a four-inch heart,” said TMC leader Derek O’Brien, referring to Modi’s famous poll campaign line about the country’s need for a strong leadership. The Congress and some other opposition parties raised slogans like “No PM, no house.” The protests led to repeated adjournments in the Rajya Sabha where no business was transacted.

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