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Conversion row continues in Rajya Sabha


New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) The uproar over reported conversions and comments by MPs of the ruling BJP continued to rock the Rajya Sabha for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, forcing several adjournments.

The opposition was also upset that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a comment on the issue at a meeting of BJP’s parliamentary party, but did not come to the house.

As soon as the house met, the issue was raised by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Naresh Agarwal.

"We read in the papers that some policy decisions were made in the parliamentary party meet of BJP," Agarwal said referring to prime minister’s warning to party members for not crossing the "Lakshman Rekha" (limits) in their statements.

"If his ministers are making some mistake, it is his responsibility to say it in the house," said Agarwal.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley however rejected the charge that any policy decision was taken.

"PM has not made any policy decision in the meet. But I have a point of order. In the name of point of order, can Naresh Agarwal every day raise a point of disorder," said the finance minister.

Congress leader Pramod Tiwari again raised a point of order, on the same issue.

"We are just telling PM your people are creating disharmony in the country. If he is accepting some ministers are crossing Lakshman Rekha… let him tell which Lakshman Rekha is being crossed," said Tiwari.

BJP leader Tarun Vijay then complained that he was not being allowed to raise the issues he wanted to take up in the zero hour repeatedly.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said he wanted to raise a "point of disorder".

"I want to know if the prime minister will come to this house so that we can have a discussion. Will the prime minister be willing to come. Instead of addressing from outside the house, come and speak in the house and be responsible to the legislators," said Yechury.

Congress leader Anand Sharma complained that opposition members were not being allowed to speak.

"Ruling party is disrupting the house whenever opposition leaders speak," said Sharma.

As opposition members raised the pitch demanding prime minister’s presence, treasury bench members too raised pitch.

Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien adjourned the house till noon.

At noon, once again opposition members refused to allow the question hour to be taken up.

Agarwal urged the chair to accept his notice to suspend the business and take up the discussion. However, Chairman M. Hamid Ansari rejected the notice as "redundant" as a discussion on communal situation in the country is already listed in the upper house.

As Agarwal insisted, an angry chairman said: "Why should all the business of the house be suspended because you want something."

He also reprimanded members leaving their seats.

"Who are you to talk from there, you have no status standing in the aisles," said Ansari.

With ruckus continuing, the upper house was adjourned twice for 15 minutes.

Even as the chairman repeatedly said a discussion is listed, opposition members questioned if the prime minister would come.

"Take care of you side, let them take care of their side… Government has collective responsibility," said Ansari.

An angry chairman even named Congress’ V. Hanumatha Rao under rules and asked him to leave the house.

The opposition, however, refused to relent, and the house was adjourned before being adjourned till 2 p.m.

The opposition has been protesting in the wake of recent reports of conversion of Muslims to Hinduism, and also BJP parliamentarian Yogi Adityanath’ comment supporting a mass conversion programme.

Adityanath reportedly said there was nothing wrong if people re-convert to Hinduism if they were doing it willingly.

Bharatiya Janata Party sources said Modi on Tuesday warned party MPs at the parliamentary board meeting against crossing the "Lakshman Rekha" (limits) by making controversial statements.


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