Heated exchanges were witnessed in Lok Sabha on Monday between Opposition and Treasury benches over the "rising number" of communal incidents, as Congress and TMC members accused the BJP of creating an atmosphere of "religious intolerance" despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance to minorities.
Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu led the charge for the government accusing Congress of playing "communal politics" as he urged members to let state governments deal with law and order issues and not trade charges in Parliament.
"We do not practice communal politics" and his government's slogan was "development for all, appeasement for none," Naidu said.
His comments came when the House witnessed a row over a series of "communal incidents" like the recent vandalisation of a church in Haryana, rape of a septuagenarian nun in West Bengal and controversial statement made by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in Assam, with members from both sides resorting to heated exchange of words.
Referring to Swamy's reported comment that mosques are not a religious place and could be demolished, Naidu said "we fully disagree with such statements" and wondered whether all such "individual issues" should be raised in the House.
Congress and TMC, who were together in attacking the BJP, also traded charges against each other over the response of Mamata Banerjee government on the nun gangrape incident with Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Congress) alleging that the main accused have not yet been arrested despite being caught on camera.
As TMC members protested, SS Ahluwalia (BJP) also attacked the ruling party in West Bengal, prompting TMC leaders Kalyan Banerjee and Saugata Roy (TMC) to retort that such incidents were happening due to communal tensions created by the BJP.
With Congress and TMC members continuing to attack the government, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had to rise again and again to restore order and was seen angrily telling Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge to stop his party members from creating din even as she allowed Gaurav Gogoi (Congress) to speak on the matter.
The unrelenting Congress members then trooped into the Well demanding a detailed statement from the government and questioning why such incidents continued to recur despite Modi's assurance to minorities. Congress later walked out in protest.
"Why are these things happening despite the Prime Minister's assurance in Vigyan Bhawan," Kharge said referring to Modi's recent speech as a Christian congregation.
Naidu hit back at Congress accusing it of practicing "communal politics" in the country all these years and asserted that India was peaceful under Modi.
"What purpose are we achieving? We should do some soul-searching. Are we doing justice to issues? Arguments like 'this is your fault, this is my fault' won't help," the parliamentary affairs minister said, urging members not to indulge in partisan clashes over issues like rape and such sensitive matters.
He asserted that the Centre would not shun from discharging its duties, but states should be allowed to take measures to deal with what he termed as "law and order problems."
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has promised stern action and Haryana government has also taken action, Naidu said.
Earlier, Gogoi charged the BJP with deliberately creating communal tension in the country and said the people were scared due to a rise in such incidents.
P Venugopal (AIADMK) also attacked Swami for his statements and said the government should take strong action against him.