Parliament Winter Session: Venkaiah Naidu Says There Is 'Some Amount' Of Intolerance In India

30/11/2015 2:28 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President Vankaiah Naidu addresses the press after attending a two-day meeting in Guwahati, India, on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2002. (AP Photo/Ritu Raj Konwar)

NEW DELHI -- Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today said that there was "some amount" of intolerance in the society which has to be identified and dealt with firmly, instead of generalising it.

Without referring to any particular incident, Naidu participating in the debate in Rajya Sabha, said people making out of turn statements should be condemned, isolated and disowned.

"There is some amount of intolerance in the society, in different areas. That has to be identified, it has to be localised, it has to be dealt with firmly. Instead of that, we are making it generalised," he said as he referred to instances of killing of dalits and writers in certain states.

He said incidents have not happened overnight after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. "These things have been happening."

"Some people making out of turn statement, we have to condemn, we have to isolate them... they have to be condemnd and disowned," he said.

He welcomed senior Congress leader P Chidambaram's statement that banning of Salman Rushdie's controversial novel 'The Satanic Verses' was "wrong".

"Sir, there are two things, one people writing the books, they should not affect the sentiments of the people, they should not arouse social tension, but at the same time, freedom of expression and freedom of speech, people have got right. But there has to be broad consensus about how do we go about it," he said.

While banning Salman Rushdie's book draws cheers, the same on a book on Shivaji draws protests, he said, adding that "there are different angles are coming, Hindu angle, Muslim angle."

"Let there be policy for banning books, or films," he said.

Naidu said "let us all be tolerant to each other and than tolerant to verdict of the people. ... Respecting the mandate of the people was the biggest form of tolerance."

Giving an example, he said 'x' has been mandated to rule Tamil Nadu, 'y' mandated to rule West Bengal. "We have to respect it."

Similarly, the mandate of people of Bihar to Nitish Kumar with support of Lalu Prasad has to be respected. "There is no choice," he said.

Naidu appealed for a broad consensus among political parties, rising above narrow point-scoring about achievements of one government over the other.

After 68 years of independence, genuine concerns agitating the minds should be addressed. Instead "we are scoring political points," he said.

"I don't want to score political points... This day, we have to ponder over where we are lagging, what are the shortcomings," he said calling for a dialogue and consensus between the opposition and government. "Let us debate, discuss and decide."

He said if there is tolerance, Parliament can function.

The founding fathers of Constitution envisaged "uniformity of law both civil and criminal," he said, posing whether India was in "a position to work out a common law with regard to marriage, inheritance and divorce."

He went on to ask whether justice had been done to gender equality and said even when all parties are in favour of women's reservation, "why has it not happened."

"Let us not be hypocritical," he said, adding that bringing an issue in the agenda is not important. "Unless there is consensus, it is difficult to go" ahead.

Naidu also said that the challenge was to bridge regional disparities.

Referring to NJAC, he said the Supreme Court had struck down a law passed by Parliament unanimously. "The House in collective wisdom passed it... nowhere in the world, judges appoint themselves," he said, adding if the collegium system was fine, why are changes being sought in it.

Also, there were regional aspirations like having a bench of the Supreme Court in the South, he said, adding that some cases suddenly get priority but not the cases of common man.

Meanwhile, the debate on the issue of 'intolerance' got off to a stormy start in the Lok Sabha today with the House witnessing uproar after a CPI(M) member attributed certain Hindutva remarks to Home Minister Rajnath Singh who denied them outright and demanded his apology.

Mohammad Salim cited a news magazine which quoted Singh as having made a pro-Hindutva remark after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.

Singh vehemently denied it and said he was never hurt so much in his Parliamentary career as he was today.

"Mohd Salim levelled a serious allegation against me. He should say when and where I made such a statement or apologise .... A Home Minister who makes such a statement has no moral right to be the Home Minister. I speak after weighing every word... People know Rajnath Singh can never make such a statement," Singh said.

Quoting the magazine, Salim said Singh had made the remark at an internal meeting of RSS.

When some BJP members questioned whether he was present when such a reported comment was made, the CPI(M) member said, "I don't have such misfortune to attend RSS meeting."

Members in the treasury benches, including Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy, demanded that Salim withdraw his remark till the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan takes a view by examining all sides, including authenticity of the report.

With both sides sticking to their guns and uproar prevailing in the House, the Speaker adjourned the Lok Sabha for an hour.

rajnath singh

On his part, Salim insisted that he was not levelling any allegation nor wanted to cast any aspersion on Singh but was only quoting from a reputed weekly. The CPI(M) member also said that neither the Home Minister nor the government ever denied the report.

At the same time, Salim acknowledged that it was the Home Minister who was among the first from the government to speak against Dadri lynching incident.

He said the Speaker may not put his comments on record till she verifies it but declined to take them back.

B Mahtab (BJD) sided with the treasury benches and quoted the Rule book to say that an allegation against a minister or member cannot be made without giving prior notice.

Saugata Roy, whose party TMC is a bitter of CPI(M), however, batted for Salim by citing another rule.

Amid the uproar, Salim walked to the Lok Sabha Secretary General and authenticated the article containing Singh's alleged remarks.

When the BJP members demanded withdrawal of the remarks by Salim, he said he had only quoted from an article in a publication. In a way, the CPI(M) member said, he has helped the minister as the Intelligence Bureau and police should have told him about this earlier as the issue was dated November 16.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told the member that she was keeping his remarks out of records till she examined them.

At this point, Rudy said it would be difficult to run the House till he withdraws his comments. The Speaker also asked Salim to agree to this but he declined.

The house was again adjourned till 4 pm as the ruckus continued.

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