Under fire for his statement on the lynching of a man transporting cows in Rajasthan — “the kind of incident as is being portrayed has not occurred on the ground” — Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi clarified Friday that what he had meant was that no such incident had happened “in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh”.
The Opposition accused Naqvi of attempting leepa poti (whitewash) of his remarks of Thursday. MPs demanded an apology, citing the difference between his remarks in Rajya Sabha and those of Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Lok Sabha.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the minister had made those remarks Thursday instead of acknowledging the incident. “The central government should not protect such people,” Azad said.
Naqvi said Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry had mentioned MP, Gujarat, UP and Rajasthan Thursday, and it was in that context that he had made his remarks to mean MP, Gujarat and UP. “As far as Rajasthan is concerned, we do not justify goondagardi aur arajakata (anarchy and hooliganism),” he said, adding that the Rajasthan government has lodged a case against six persons.
“Please do not look at it from Hindu or Muslim point of view on whoever is apradhi, kaatil, goonda, badmash. A criminal is a criminal… engaging in violence is violence,” Naqvi said during an elaborate response as the Opposition attacked the government and particularly him.
Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) said he was surprised to hear Naqvi’s statement Thursday when Rajnath had said in Lok Sabha that he was aware of the incident of Alwar. “The statements of the two ministers are different from each other,” he said.
The BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra said the home minister should come to Rajya Sabha to clear the air and accused Naqvi of attempting now a “whitewash” of what he had said earlier. “Unhone kal kaha tha ki aisa nahin hua hai. Aaj ye us par leepa poti kar rahe hain.” Naqvi denied the charge.
Naqvi said the home minister will make a statement in the House Monday but the Opposition insisted that he should have done it today. “This government is insulting the members of Rajya Sabha, of this House, undermining the very position, the constitutional position, of Rajya Sabha,” Azad said.
As Congress members trooped into the well and shouted slogans, Kurien told them tersely: “You don’t want to solve the problem. Making noise alone is not parliamentary work… This is intimidation; nothing but intimidation.”
He went on, “This is disobeying the chair. I will not adjourn the House. I am with the majority of the members who are sitting and keeping quiet.”
When Satyavrat Chaturvedi (Congress) argued that the chair should allow members to make their submissions, the deputy chairman shot back, “You are nobody to ask the chair… A senior member of the Congress comes to the well and questions the chair. Very bad. I am sorry.”
Congress members shouted “Sadan ko gumrah karna band karo (stop misleading the House)” and “Mafi mango”. “Why apologise?” Kurien asked. With a gesture of the hand, Naqvi too refused to apologise.
Azad eventually asked his party colleagues to return to their seats, but not before attacking the government for the home minister not coming to reply in Rajya Sabha Friday. Naqvi said the home minister is travelling to Andaman.
Azad recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken strongly against cow vigilantes last year and said actions on the ground seem to suggest that BJP workers have been given a free hand. He mentioned a BJP MLA in Rajasthan as having said the death in Alwar had been caused by a heart attack, while the postmortem by state government doctors confirmed it had been caused due to internal bleeding in the stomach and chest as a result of the thrashing.