Neither Government, nor BJP involved in force conversion, says Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi(PTI): Facing opposition attack over the conversion issue, Government on Monday said in Lok Sabha that neither it nor the BJP was involved in such acts and the state governments should take action if anyone violates the law.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu insisted that the government does not support conversion or re-conversion.

“Government is nowhere in the picture, the party (BJP) is nowhere in the picture. If any individual does it, action has to be taken by the state government,” he said after Congress member K C Venugopal, supported by his and other opposition parties, raised the issue during Zero Hour.

“Government is not involved and government does not support conversion or re-conversion. The entire country is peaceful, some people are unhappy. You want to make a political issue, make it outside. You can’t go levelling allegations,” Naidu.

With Venugopal raising the issue of recent instances of conversions in Kerala, Naidu said, “Action has to be taken by the state government and unfortunately it belongs to Venugopal’s party (Cong). Who stopped the Congress government (in Kerala) from taking action? Action should be taken by the state government.”

Heated exchanges ensued after Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said, “Every day such incidents of ‘ghar wapasi’ are happening in various states. Government is indirectly supporting it.”

As opposition and BJP members got into a slanging match, Rajesh Ranjan (RJD) and AIUDF member Badruddin Ajmal rushed into the Well and some Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress members came to the aisle.

Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai then adjourned the House for an hour.

Earlier raising the issue, Venugopal said while two cases of conversion were reported from Kerala, there was one in Gujarat’s Valsad district.

“I want to know whether the government will condemn these incidents,” the Congress member said.

“These incidents indicate a purposeful move of the Sangh Parivar. It is not an innocent move. The organisers are carrying out conversions by dishing out false promises, they are disturbing communal harmony. They are giving huge publicity to these functions,” he said, fuelling protests from BJP members.

Kharge also charged organisers of conversion ceremonies with providing “inducements” and making false promises.

Venugopal was joined by Rajesh Ranjan in condemning the incidents but the RJD member’s speech could not be heard in the din.

N K Premachandran (RSP) was also seen trying to raise the issue.

Amid a controversy over religious conversions, Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said that political forces “disturbed” over the victory of BJP are trying to convert the agenda of development into that of vote bank politics.

“This is not an issue within the party. There are some political forces and leaders, who are disturbed over the victory of BJP,” he said outside Parliament House here.

“As far as vote bank politics is concerned, which is a very very general practice for them and development is not their agenda, they want to convert the agenda of development and good governance into vote bank politics,” he said, replying to a question on the issue of religious conversions.

“It is vote bank politics and nothing else,” the Union Transport Minister maintained.

Asked whether former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee would be conferred the Bharat Ratna, he said the government and the Prime Minister would take “an appropriate decision at an appropriate time.”

Lauding the contribution of Vajpayee towards good governance, he said the party wanted to fulfil the dreams of the former Prime Minister in poverty alleviation and free the country from hunger.

“Our dream is to fulfil the dreams of Vajpayee to make India free from hunger and poverty, generate employment and develop the country. We all are on the same track,” he said, responding to a query on government’s efforts to observe Good Governance Day on December 25.