New Delhi: A united Opposition continued to stall proceedings inside Parliament over the religious conversion issue shortly after both the Houses met for normal business on Tuesday.
As the proceedings began, the Opposition MPs shouted slogans and demanded an explanation from none other than the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi over the issue. Opposition MPs led by Congress even reached the Well of the House and raised anti-government slogans.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury informed Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien that he had a copy of the circular asking some schools to remain open on Christmas. Soon after papers were laid, the Opposition MPs started raising slogans against the government.
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav said, "There are repeated incidents. No action is being taken by government, and you are asking us to just discuss it." An angry Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi accused the Opposition of "running away from discussion".
"Those who don't want to discuss can just leave," said Naqvi as he repeatedly said the government was ready to take up the debate. "You are insulting the mandate of the people... they want disruption, not discussion," added Naqvi.
Members from the Congress and the Samajwadi Party then trooped near the chairman's podium. In the din, the house was adjourned for 15 minutes. The scene remained the same when the house reassembled.
"The kind of comments the ruling party MPs are making, we cannot accept it," Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal said.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad again slammed the Opposition for "running away from a debate". Kurien repeatedly urged the members to calm down, and said: "Parliament is for discussion, not for shouting."
The Opposition members, however, raised slogans near the chairman's podium, forcing the deputy chairman to adjourn the house till noon and then till 2 pm.. However, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day following uproar over conversion issue and events being organised on Christmas in schools.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress also warned that the Opposition is unanimous in its decision that the Rajya Sabha won't be allowed to function until Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the House and participates in the debate and gives a reply on the issue of forced conversion.
"In Rajya Sabha where the opposition parties has 140 MPs from the Congress, Trinamool Congress, JD-U, BSP, SP, DMK and left parties our view is very clear that we want a discussion on these communal incidents and the forced conversions in the country," Rajya Sabha MP Derek O' Brien said.
"The Prime Minister must come and listen to the debate and reply. The House will not run till the Prime Minister comes," he added.
Similar protests were witnessed in the Lok Sabha where the government ministers tried to pacify the Opposition to allow smooth functioning of the Lower House.
The conversion storm had stalled the proceedings in the both Houses on Monday forcing several adjournment throughout the day as Opposition members kept up their protest over conversions and demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak on the issue even as the government suggested a ban on the practice.
Though the government agreed to a discussion, the Opposition was not ready to relent unless Prime Minister Modi participated. The Opposition has have been protesting in wake of recent reports of conversion of Muslims to Hinduism, and also Bharatiya Janata Party MP Yogi Adityanath' comment supporting a mass conversion programme.
Adityanath reportedly said that there is nothing wrong if people re-convert to Hinduism if they are doing it willingly. The government is in a minority in the upper house and is counting on the Congress's support for the passage of the contentious bill. Congress had backed the report on the bill by a select panel of the house.