Parliament Boils Over ‘Hindu Ruler’ Remark

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New Delhi: The Parliament on Monday is going through a massive spat of debate during a 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.

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.”

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“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 Mr 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 suggested that the comment was wrongly attributed to the Home Minister, and that it was Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal who said it.

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.

There are differences among opposition parties on whether to allow disruptions to cloud business like they have in the past. Sultan Ahmed of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress has said raising issues for debates shouldn’t transform into disruptions. “Disruptions are also a kind of intolerance,” Mr Ahmed said.

A “climate change” in Parliament will be encouraging for the government, which wants to push important legislation including the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the biggest tax reform since independence.

On Friday, PM Modi reached out to the Congress by inviting his predecessor Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi over tea in what was quickly dubbed as “chai pe charcha”.

(with inputs from NDTV)