Opposition targets govt in Rajya Sabha over 'intolerance'

Opposition on Monday raked up in Rajya Sabha the "intolerance" issue to target the government.

New Delhi: Opposition on Monday raked up in Rajya Sabha the "intolerance" issue to target the government which said "some amount" of intolerance has been there in the society even before the NDA rule which needed to be identified and dealt with firmly, instead of generalising it.

Members of the opposition parties like Congress, NCP and BSP sought to corner the government citing incidents of violence against minorities and dalits to suggest "anarchy" and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take strict action against ruling party members for "provocative" comments.

BSP chief Mayawati went to the extent of saying that Union Minister V K Singh should be "jailed" for his 'dog' remarks after the killing of two Dalit children in Haryana.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said such incidents "have been happening" and not started overnight after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.

"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.

"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 remarks that banning of Salman Rushdie's novel 'The Satanic Verses' by the Rajiv Gandhi government was "wrong".

"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 "different angles are coming, Hindu angle, Muslim angle... Let there be policy for banning books, or films."

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.

Mayawati alleged that "an atmosphere of intolerance and extremism on a large scale is prevalent under the NDA government, which is badly affecting minorities especially Muslims. The incident of Dadri is a living example of it." 

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