THE Government on Wednesday rejected the Opposition’s demand for a Lok Sabha debate on the increasing incidents of attacks on Dalits.
Sources said in Wednesday’s Business Advisory Committee meeting, the government refused to list a debate on the issue despite a demand from a united opposition for it. It argued that the matter has already been raised in Parliament.
Sources said that Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan maintained that the issue could be discussed as a “social issue” but the Opposition would make it “political.” Mahajan added that the House should deliberate on “development” issues.
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During the BAC meeting on Wednesday, TMC’s Kalyan Banerjee reportedly said that the government should allot time for a discussion on the incidents of assaults on Dalits. Congress’s K C Venugopal, CPM’s Mohammad Salim and BJD’s Tathagata Satpathy backed Banerjee.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government is “not refusing to discuss” the matter but the House has to discuss the flood situation in the country, Sustainable Development Goals and the functioning of the District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DDCMC).
LJP leader Chirag Paswan was present in the BAC meeting but he did not speak on the issue, sources said.
The Una flogging, attacks on Dalits and Muslims by cow-protection vigilante groups was raised in the Lok Sabha by various Opposition MPs during zero hour in the last few days.
When the Lok Sabha met in the afternoon, Congress’s Venugopal insisted that the government make it clear which minister would reply to the concerns expressed during the SDG discussion under Rule 193. Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai suggested that Minister for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh or Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu could reply but Rao said he would not be able to.
Congress MP M Veerappa Moily and BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab joined Venugopal. “Where is the concerned Minister? There is absolutely no seriousness in the government on the issue,” Moily said as he suggested that the discussion be postponed until the Minister comes to the House.
Trying to pacify the agitated MPs, Prabhu assured them that suggestions made by them would be taken seriously and incorporated in policies. As confusion prevailed, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi stood up to say she would reply to the members’ concerns relating to her ministry. But Moily pointed out that since SDGs involve 17 different ministries and the respective ministers should be present.
To assuage the opposition, Thambidurai said Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was also present in the House. The Lok Sabha resumed discussion after Prabhu said: “Any member of Cabinet present here represents the Cabinet and you will get a holistic answer at the end of discussion”.