Conversion row continues to rock Parliament

The row over religious conversion continued in Parliament Monday, with the Rajya Sabha being stalled again, while the Congress staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha.

New Delhi: The row over religious conversion continued in Parliament Monday, with the Rajya Sabha being stalled again, while the Congress staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha.

In the Rajya Sabha, which saw the whole of last week being washed out except for half of Friday, the disruptions continued.

In the Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said that neither the government nor the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was involved in such acts and the state governments should take action if anyone violates the law.

He said the government does not support conversion or re-conversion.

"The 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.

Samajwadi Party members also raised the issue of black money, saying the government did not fulfill its promise of bringing back black money stashed abroad but was backing reconversions or 'Ghar Wapsi'.

Opposition members continued their demand for a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a demand which was also raised in the Lok Sabha Monday.

Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal said he has submitted a notice to suspend all work and take up the debate.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, said the notice cannot be admitted since the issue has already been raised once.

Members criticised the government for not fulfilling its promises but going ahead with the 'Ghar Wapsi' agenda.

"They promised they will give farmers one-and-a-half times returns for their input cost, they promised to bring back black money, and creating jobs. None of this was done but they are going ahead with reconversions," said Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav.

He was joined by other members, including Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav and Left Front leader Sitaram Yechury.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien said: "You don't need a 56-inch chest to come here, you just need a four-inch heart to come here."

Congress leader Anand Sharma said the opposition was not running away from a debate, "it is the prime minister who is shying away, resulting in the deadlock".

Opposition members then gathered near the chairman's podium, displaying placards and shouting slogans.

While Samajwadi Party members raised slogans demanding that the government bring back black money stashed abroad, the Congress and other opposition parties raised slogans saying "No PM, no house".

The Rajya Sabha saw multiple adjournments before being adjourned for the day shortly after 3 p.m.

In the post-lunch session, the government tried to take up a bill for regularisation of unauthorised colonies in Delhi. However, the opposition did not allow it.

In the Lok Sabha, the issue was raised by K.C. Venugopal of the Congress during zero hour. He said there were reports of incidents of re-conversion to Hinduism in Kerala.

In response, Naidu said: "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."

"Action has to be taken by the state government and unfortunately it belongs to Venugopal's party (Congress). Who stopped the Congress government (in Kerala) from taking action? Action should be taken by the state government."

Congress members later staged a walk out from the lower house over the issue.

The Lok Sabha has already debated the conversion issue last week, and Naidu had replied to the debate.