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New Delhi(DNA): The issue of religious conversions in Agra continued to stall the Rajya Sabha proceedings, even though the government offered a discussion on the issue. But the opposition demanded prime minister Narendra Modi assure such incidents disrupting communal harmony will not take place.
Ram Jethmalani, Yogi Adityanath and Meenakshi Lekhi at the Parliament during winter session in New Delhi on Monday Arijit Sen dna
Notwithstanding uproar in the parliament and assurances by the top BJP leadership, MP Yogi Adityanath reiterated to go ahead with another mass conversion ceremony being planned in Aligarh on December 25.
Finance minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley tried to lob the ball into the Opposition’s court by saying “There are two options–is the Opposition willing for a total ban on religious conversion or a ban on forcible religious conversions. They should tell us the options, the government is ready for both.” In Lok Sabha, parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu had also said that the government was prepared for a law against conversions in states and the Centre.
The BJP leadership and government have expressed concern over hate speeches of its members– union minister Niranjan Jyoti and MP Sakshi Maharaj–coming in the way of its economic agenda. Both were made to apologise.
Yet, it is unlikely to rein in the likes of Adityanath, the head priest of Gorakhnath Matha, who has won every Lok Sabha election since 1998.
The Opposition protest against the Agra re-conversions of Muslims back into Hindus has given the BJP ammunition to fight against religious conversions, an issue which has been of concern of the RSS and its affiliates.
“Opposition parties have taken a very hypocritical view of conversion, trying to address their own constituency. This is a tool for consolidating its own vote bank rather than addressing an issue that requires a serious review,” BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said.
The Opposition uproar has stalled business in Rajya Sabha, where the crucial insurance bill, seeking to raise the insurance cap from 26 per cent to 49 per cent, was slated to be taken up on Tuesday. With just a week left for the winter session, the government is keen on ensuring passage of the insurance bill, a major reform initiative.
A debate on the conversion issue was listed for December 17.
However, the Opposition gave a notice for suspension of question hour on Monday to discuss the matter. Congress leader Anand Sharma said conversions was a serious issue and that a “coordinated effort” was being made to polarise society on communal lines by an outfit which calls itself a cultural organisation.
Adityanath’s comments have added fuel to the fire. “There is nothing wrong in ‘ghar vapasi’ if one does it out of free will. Is it not a fact that large scale conversion of Hindus into other religions had taken place before and after Independence due to allurement and pressure?” he said.
On Sunday, addressing a ‘sant samagam’ called by Dharm Jagran Manch of the RSS in Vaishali, he asked the government not to stop the “forcibly converted” Hindus from becoming Hindu again. He described those opposing ‘homecoming’ of non-Hindus as ‘pseudo-secular’ and asked them to explain their stand “on the conversion of Hindus into other faiths in the North east”.