Intolerance debate: Rajnath draws the party line – and steps across it as well

Singh wrapped up a two-day discussion in the House on intolerance by extending an olive branch to writers, artists and scientists who have returned their awards in protest over what they called growing acts of intolerance.

Written by Raghvendra Rao , Sheela Bhatt | New Delhi | Updated: December 2, 2015 12:13 pm
Rajnath singh, intolerance debate, social harmony, religious harmony, lok sabha, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, BJP, congress, sahitya akademi awards, Mohammad Salim, CPM, india news Rajnath Singh, CPM’s Mohammad Salim at Parliament House Tuesday. Renuka Puri

Rejecting the charge that intolerance has been on the rise since the NDA came to power at the Centre, Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured Lok Sabha Tuesday that the government will not spare anyone trying to disrupt social and religious harmony in the country.

Describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “victim of maximum intolerance”, Singh wrapped up a two-day discussion in the House on intolerance by extending an olive branch to writers, artists and scientists who have returned their awards in protest over what they called growing acts of intolerance.

He urged them to take back their awards: “Whenever the country has been in trouble, whenever adverse circumstances have emerged… it is the artists, teachers and scientists who have guided the country. If they think that circumstances like these are getting created… if you feel intolerance is increasing… please come, let us sit and talk. Please come, guide us.”
Watch Video: Parliament Debate On Intolerance(app users click here)

“If we are making a mistake somewhere, we are ready to correct it… expression is a big honour… You invite me, I am ready to sit with you and our government is ready to do whatever is necessary to bring in an atmosphere of tolerance,” he said.

The government stand and the lowering of rhetoric comes days after the NDA was trounced in the Bihar assembly elections which many of the BJP’s own said was partly because of the “language of divisive politics” in a high-decibel campaign spearheaded by Prime Minister Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.

Pointing to the way Rajnath Singh challenged CPM’s Mohammad Salim in Lok Sabha Monday after the latter referred to a ‘Hindu leader’ remark by VHP leader Ashok Singhal and attributed it to the Home Minister — Singh told the House he would never make such a remark and would resign if this was proved — BJP sources said “the extreme position on caste and communal issues during the Bihar campaign has given space to Rajnath which was not available to him earlier”.

And in the House Tuesday, Singh underlined: “We were, are and will be tolerant. Tolerance is in our veins… it’s in our tradition, our culture… we are not tolerant under somebody’s pressure… Mutthi bhar logon ke banaavati prachar se hamari chhavi par kalit nahin putegi (an artificial campaign by a handful cannot tarnish our image).”

He said the allegation of intolerance was not just on his party or the government but on the Indian society and nation. “If there is one political party which has suffered the maximum untouchability and intolerance in Indian politics, it is the Bharatiya Janata Party. If somebody has been the victim of maximum intolerance in India’s politics, it is our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.”

Singh said those who criticised Modi before the elections for political reasons should respect the “massive mandate” he got. “Only then will people say that you are tolerant… otherwise they will call you intolerant,” he said.

To queries from the Opposition on why Modi had not spoken on incidents of intolerance, Singh countered by asking whether previous prime ministers had ever commented on such incidents. He said internal security was his responsibility and he had always spoken on such incidents.

Taking on the Congress, he referred to three major events related to intolerance — Partition, Emergency and the 1984 riots. “And you know whose government was in place during these times… who were the people responsible for these,” he said, leading to loud protests from Congress benches.

“Vichardhara se maat khane wali yeh jamaat asahishnuta ka banaavati mahaul banakar sarkar ko badnam kar rahi hai (those who have been defeated ideologically have created an artificial atmosphere of intolerance to defame the government)… Where were these people when the immortal literature of Kashmir was being burnt… libraries were being consigned to flames….where where they then? Lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits were made to flee from their birthplace… where were they then? In 1984, thousands of Sikhs were burnt on the roads… where were they then?”

Amid a walkout by the Congress, Singh spoke on the Dadri incident where a Muslim man was lynched. He said the report sent by the Uttar Pradesh government had “no mention of communalism or beef” or it being a “planned murder”.

“I can only state the fact made available to the Central government,” he said, adding that he was ready to order a CBI probe if the state government thought fit.

On inflammatory statements made by BJP leaders, the Home Minister said he had made it known that “we should be careful in giving statements” and “we should speak after thinking”. He defended Minister of State V K Singh — attacked by Rahul Gandhi earlier for his ‘dog remark’ over the death of two Dalit children in Haryana — saying that the minister had clarified that his statement had been twisted out of context.

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  1. A
    A Patel
    Dec 1, 2015 at 11:09 pm
    Why is intolerance of the UP government towards Hindus not debated? Dadri lynching victim is offered Rs 40 lakh compensation, but the Aligarh lynching victim (Gaurav) family is offered only Rs 10 lakhs. When a Muslim deputy SP was killed on the job, his family was offered big compensation out of the norm. When a Manoj Misra, an SP, was killed in an encounter with cow smugglers, his family is offered nothing.
    1. A
      Dec 2, 2015 at 3:14 am
      India has become intolerance country is proved his highness amir khan proved it the w world salutes amir sir the w world people loves you his highness amir khan the w world salutes you
      1. Ashutosh Shukla
        Dec 2, 2015 at 8:54 am
        Rajnath ji- well said and think no one could said it better. It is not your fault if Dadri happened or of writers return their awards. To be honest no one cares and these thing have a habit of dying out the way they start-of course you said it better in this country the person who are responsible of doing it will get intolerant and walk out. Once again who cares. These things are not worth wasting parliaments time - better concentrate on agenda at hand but congress want people to know that they run the show suggest leave it - it is a matter of time before they will not even have any representation in parliament and the party has to be disbanded. Also let us ask one question how was the country run for 60 odd years while the majority of the country was poor- hungry - devoid of opportunities and self respect. It was easy they cultivated the press ( not talking of one off Goenka and Karanjia) the judiciary ( the collegium system so that their judges would appoint people with soft corners) and the bureaucracy ( where a handful of IAS - IPS ran the country) and even after retirement they were often given plum postings - an army general would get presidency of IOC and an IAS would be the MD & CEO of say UPFC. The party has gone but these connections remain it will be a while before these are dead and new breed comes to take their place. The only way is to change the nation and of course these jokers will oppose tooth and nail and come with intolerance- lynching- beef etc. Suggest make one education system for the entire nation which is free of religion- one history that every one reads and one science that every one reads The education should be a union subject and each government school should be the best in the country. The teacher should be highest paid employee and the most qualified. The best should go into research and training and these should have no reservation very like our cricket team. The other services make 100% reserved for SC ST backward - most backward and the extreme backward and let them serve civil services. We will see results in 10 years - India that everyone is proud of and without MSY- Lallos- Mayawati. jai Hind
        1. A
          Dec 2, 2015 at 5:37 am
          IF I ACCEPT THAT I AM WRONG, THEN I CAN CHANGE. If the only criticism of the current political climate was politically motivated, and came from political parties with a murky past of their own (like the Congress), it would not be so much of an issue. But it comes from many members of civil society who feel threatened, and when they PROTEST IN A NON-VIOLENT WAY, they are TOLD BRUTALLY TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY AND GO ELSEWHERE. That is the crude language of MAJORITARIANISM
          1. W
            Wise Thoights
            Dec 2, 2015 at 9:56 am
            All those friends who r writing from abroad doesn't have full information. .Dadri was pre planned by bjp local leader who instigated locals by spreading rumours dat victim has killed cow ..even sacred place like temple was used in the heinous crime where priest was forced to announce dat victim has killed cow ..than last n most important Post Lynching Local Bjp MLA n MP has issued inflammatory statement n supported d murders .. What else proof is required of the bjp leaders involvement.. Media opposition n Intellectual s has raised the issue effectively forcing govt to react
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