Intolerance debate kicks off in LS on stormy note

Intolerance debate kicks off in LS on stormy note

Intolerance debate kicks off in LS on stormy note

The debate on the issue of 'intolerance' got off to a stormy start in the Lok Sabha today with the House witnessing uproar after a CPI(M) member attributed certain Hindutva remarks to Home Minister Rajnath Singh who denied them outright and demanded his apology.

Mohammad Salim cited a news magazine which quoted Singh as having made a pro-Hindutva remark after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.
Singh vehemently denied it and said he was never hurt so much in his Parliamentary career as he was today.

"Mohd Salim levelled a serious allegation against me. He should say when and where I made such a statement or apologise .... A Home Minister who makes such a statement has no moral right to be the Home Minister. I speak after weighing every word... People know Rajnath Singh can never make such a statement," Singh said.

Quoting the magazine, Salim said Singh had made the remark at an internal meeting of RSS.

When some BJP members questioned whether he was present when such a reported comment was made, the CPI(M) member said, "I don't have such misfortune to attend RSS meeting."

Members in the treasury benches, including Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy, demanded that Salim withdraw his remark till the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan takes a view by examining all sides, including authenticity of the report.
With both sides sticking to their guns and uproar prevailing in the House, the Speaker adjourned the Lok Sabha for an hour.

On his part, Salim insisted that he was not levelling any allegation nor wanted to cast any aspersion on Singh but was only quoting from a reputed weekly. The CPI(M) member also said that neither the Home Minister nor the government ever denied the report.
At the same time, Salim acknowledged that it was the Home Minister who was among the first from the government to speak against Dadri lynching incident.

He said the Speaker may not put his comments on record till she verifies it but declined to take them back.

B Mahtab (BJD) sided with the treasury benches and quoted the Rule book to say that an allegation against a minister or member cannot be made without giving prior notice.
Saugata Roy, whose party TMC is a bitter of CPI(M), however, batted for Salim by citing another rule.

Amid the uproar, Salim walked to the Lok Sabha Secretary General and authenticated the article containing Singh's alleged remarks.

When the BJP members demanded withdrawal of the remarks by Salim, he said he had only quoted from an article in a publication. In a way, the CPI(M) member said, he has helped the minister as the Intelligence Bureau and police should have told him about this earlier as the issue was dated November 16.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told the member that she was keeping his remarks out of records till she examined them.

At this point, Rudy said it would be difficult to run the House till he withdraws his comments. Speaker also asked Salim to agree to this but he declined.

When the House reassembled at 1405 hours, Rudy again insisted that Salim should withdraw his remarks till he is able to prove the contents of the report.

Rudy said since the Home Minister has categorically denied making any such comment, hence Salim should withdraw his statement if he wanted the House to function smoothly.
To this, Salim remarked that the Minister's statement reflected deficit of tolerance. He said he will go only by the ruling of the Chair and not by anyone else's. The heated exchanges led to another adjournment of the House by Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai.
When the House reassembled at 1430 hours, several BJP members, including Kirit Somaiya and Ganesh Singh, demanded apology from Salim.

N K Premachandran (RSP), however, defended Salim and said he has not made any defamatory statement but has quoted from a magazine and hence he should not withdraw his statement.

Dinesh Trivedi (TMC) said the situation in the House raised question mark on whether we have enough tolerance. "I am sad to say it also reflects intolerance," he remarked.
Rudy said the NDA government does not want to go into any confrontation and since the Home Minister has disowned any such comment that has appeared in reports, so Salim should withdraw his remarks.

Meenakshi Lekhi (BJP) demanded a Privilege Motion against Salim and the journalist who has written the report saying the sanctity of this House is much more than the unauthenticated report. Her party colleague Hukum Singh also said notices should be served on the member and the magazine editor.

Veerappa Moily (Cong) and K C Venugopal (Cong) backed Salim saying there was no reason why he should withdraw his remarks.

Sudip Bandyopadhyay (TMC), however, alleged that both CPI(M) and BJP seemed to be in connivance and decided not to allow discussion on intolerance to take place.

Another BJP member Ganesh Singh also sought an apology from Salim. As exchanges between the treasury and opposition benches continued, the Deputy Speaker once again adjourned the House for 30 minutes.

When the House reassembled at 3.15 PM, the CPI(M) member said he as a private member cannot go and probe the contents of the report. It is the job of the government to verify the content. "I would go by the Speaker's ruling. The Speaker said 'pause and move ahead'."

Salim continued to say: "I have no qualms against Rajnath Singh. In fact, I would have been happy if instead of Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh was the Prime Minister."

To this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said "a member has made an allegation, let the Chair give a ruling and move forward. ... If someone said P Karunakaran should be the (CPI-M) General Secretary instead of Sitaram Yechury, this is not (done)."

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