A united opposition in the Rajya Sabha flayed the government for failing to take action against its ministers for alleged “hate speeches”, but the Centre dug its heels in, declaring, there is nothing inflammatory in the speech made by minister of state for human resource development RS Katheria.
Almost giving a clean chit to Katheria, home minister Rajnath Singh informed the House that his office had thoroughly examined the speech and found there was nothing that could be called inflammatory, even as speaker after speaker sought punitive action against the minister.
Speaking at a condolence meeting for a VHP leader Arun Mahaur in Agra, this past week, the junior HRD minister was reported to have said that there is ‘a conspiracy being hatched against Hindus’ and had called for revenge.
“Three people have been charged in an FIR filed by the Agra police, who shared the stage with Katheria, and if had given the inflammatory speech, then his name would have been first on the list,” the Home Minister said, virtually ruling out action against the minister.
Responding to the calling attention motion on the issue of inflammatory speeches made by a cabinet minister, the home minister deflected questions on the action that the government has taken against those elected representatives in Parliament and in state assemblies who have made speeches targeting minorities.
Initiating the discussion, leader of the opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad, read a long list of “hate speech” statements made by BJP’s elected representatives and asked what stops the government from booking these leaders on charges of sedition.
“An innocent boy Kanhaiya has been booked for sedition, what about these MPs, doesn’t sedition apply to them?” he questioned, urging the government to also take action against “Muslim parties” that have been making speeches to polarize voters.
Firing her salvo at the government for not acting against Katheria, who she asserted should have been dismissed by now, BSP’s Mayawati was unsparing of the Samajwadi party government in Uttar Pradesh for not being proactive in slapping sedition charges against the minister.
The home minister’s effort to reach out to the opposition, by stating that all political parties will have to make a collective effort to protect the country’s unity, did not cut ice.
CPI’s D Raja lashed out at the government and said: “What happened in Agra is not an isolated incident. Mother India is being insulted”.
Earlier in the day, the government said no destructive agenda would dominate its development agenda.
Opposition members raised serious concerns during Zero Hour citing various reports on incidents of communal harmony.
Anu Aga, nominated member pointed out that some Sangh Parivar leaders had allegedly sought to take “revenge on the minority community for the killing of a VHP leader, and made a fervent plea for preserving the unity, sanity and diversity of the country.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said he agreed with Aga on maintaining unity and harmony and added no destructive agenda can dominate development agenda.
When Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked if the government will seek report on the matter, the minister replied he condemned the incident too.