Undue importance being given to conversion, good governance day: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

New Delhi(PTI): Faced with swirling attack from Opposition on a range of controversies, the government on Saturday put up a brave front, saying it was totally focused on development for all sections and that undue importance has been given to issues like conversion and celebration of good governance day.

Strongly defending the government, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was wrong to say that governance has been overshadowed by controversies and accused Congress of disrupting functioning of Rajya Sabha for political gain.

Asked specifically to comment on Dharam Jagran Manch chief Rajeshwar Singh’s controversial comment regarding stay of Muslims in India, the Communications and IT Minister said, “Let me say we do not appreciate it.”

“We are for good governance, for development. That is our focus. That will remain our focus. When Modi says ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’, it includes Hindus, Muslims, tribals, Christians everybody,” he said.

Asked whether good governance was overwhelmed and overtaken by silence by government on issues like conversion and treatment of Christians, he said “Not the least.” On RSS-linked groups’ conversion programme in Uttar Pradesh, Prasad said the government was against any conversion by allurement and put the onus on stopping such activities on the Samajwadi Party dispensation in the state.

“Any conversion by allurement, we never support. Some issues have come. There are one view or the other… The state government can take action if they so wish,” he told Karan Thapar of Headlines Today.

Asked to comment on criticism following government’s decision to designate Christmas Day as good governance day, Prasad said, “On December 25 Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born. He did not select his birthday. Did he?”

When referred to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s comment on Gita, he said, “When we talk of Gita, we talk as the great civilisational heritage, cultural heritage” and added that “Constitution is certainly the top most document of the country.”

“People of India have great respect for Gita. People of India know the very inclusive and assimilative approach of Narendra Modi,” Prasad said. Asked why the prime minister was not ticking off leaders who are making controversial remarks, Prasad said, “Remedial measures need to be taken will be taken, has been take.” On why Modi was not vocal in Parliament when he was talking “so much” outside Parliament, Prasad said the ministers are talking and the government was talking.

Asked specifically why Modi was avoiding replying on conversion in Rajya Sabha, the Union minister accused the Opposition of shying away from a discussion in the Upper House and said the Home Minister was ready to participate in it.

“We are willing to have a debate and I know the sheer politicking of Congress and others would be exposed in the debate. Therefore they are running away from the debate,” he said adding “Those who have been rejected by people are trying to stop the Parliament one house.”

Asked about Opposition allegations that the Prime Minister was avoiding the Rajya Sabha, Prasad termed these charges as “completely baseless”.

“The Prime Minister is always the Prime Minister. He’s the Prime Minister of the country. He’s most accessible.” On the conversion issue, he said, “We are equally against this rabid politics behind conversion for votebank politics” but did not elaborate. Asked to respond to certain controversial comments of Dharam Jagran Manch chief Rajeshwar Singh, Prasad said he does not take cognisance of him.

On government’s decision to celebrate good governance day on Christmas, he said it was in memory of Vajpayee and “I know Christians will be happy too.”