Minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju, on Tuesday rejected Congress charge that there have been more communal clashes in states where BJP has “more presence”.
The minister said also said that the number of communal incidents in the country have declined “substantially” since the NDA government has come to power.
Responding to a series of supplementaries on communal incidents in various parts of the country, Rijiju said between 2013 and October this year, the number of communal incidents reported have come down “substantially.”
As opposition members questioned his remark, the minister said so far this year four major communal incidents have taken place. “In fact, the incidents have gone down and not come up since our party has come to power,” he said during Question Hour.
Amid heated exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches, he said while there has been some rise in incidents between 2014 and 2015, yet compared to 2013, they have come down.
The minister said he was comparing the number of incidents since 2013 as NDA was not in power for the entire of 2014 but only part of it. He also said he would not like to comment on the communal incidents which took place during the UPA rule.
In the written reply, government has explained that ‘major events’ are classified as those where over five persons have been killed or 10 injured or which lead to multiplicity of fatalities and extensive destruction of property.
‘Important events’ are classified where at least one person has been killed or at least 10 persons are injured.
Rijiju rejected suggestions by Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge that there have been more communal clashes in states where BJP has “more presence” such as Gujarat, Karnataka and Bihar.
“It is not a fair comment. What Kharge says does not tally with the figures. It is the responsibility of state government or MPs,” the minister asked.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi are set to speak in Parliament on as the government and Opposition face off over the swirling intolerance debate and the legacy of the Constitution and its framer, BR Ambedkar.
Modi is likely to intervene in the ongoing discussion on the Constitution in the Rajya Sabha in the afternoon while Gandhi is scheduled to speak in the Lower House on the intolerance issue after proceedings were stalled on Monday amid repeated disruptions.
The intolerance debate got off to a stormy start after a Left lawmaker attributed a communal statement on the religion of the Prime Minister to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, sparking off verbal clashes inside the Lok Sabha.
“I have never been hurt as much as I have been today in my entire parliamentary career. This is a huge allegation. He should prove it or apologise,” Singh said after CPI(M) MP Mohd Salim accused him of making the controversial statement to a news magazine.
The Opposition is looking to put the government on the mat over the intolerance debate that has seen several scientists, historians, writers return top awards over the murder of rationalists, mob lynching over cow slaughter rumours and the killing of Dalit children.
The government has appeared to adopt a softer tone with the Congress-led Opposition in recent months and agreeing to debate on intolerance in a bid to avoid a repeat of the monsoon session washout. A slew of key reforms, including the landmark goods and services tax bill, is on the table this session.
(With inputs from PTI)