The opposition parties on Wednesday targeted the BJP and RSS in both Houses of Parliament over alleged forced conversion of 57 Muslim families in Agra and accused the government of following the Hindutva agenda, a charge rejected by BJP ministers.
Soon after Rajya Sabha met in the morning, BSP chief Mayawati raised the issue, saying the Bajrang Dal — an offshoot of RSS —indulged in forced conversions in Agra earlier this week. “Secularism is part of the Constitution… they are violating the basic tenets. BJP has a hand in it,” she said.
The BSP chief found immediate support from members of Congress, JD(U), Trinamool Congress and other opposition parties.
Minister of State for Parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said no party has a “monopoly” over secularism, and according to information available with the government, an FIR has been registered in connection with the matter.
Expressing shock over the issue, CPI’s D Raja said attempts were being made to impose the Hindutva agenda on everybody. “It’s a conscious attempt to impose the Hindutva agenda on everybody… The state government should take serious note and the (Union) Home Ministry must take serious note of this and they must act accordingly to uphold the basic values of the Constitution,” he said.
CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said the re-conversions were a ploy to vitiate the environment before Christmas. “This is clearly a ploy, a scheme, being worked out before Christmas. This is the dirtiest of vote-bank politics being played by the RSS and BJP. The RSS chief has gone on record to say that for the first time they have got control of the central government (and) so, will pursue their agenda of transforming the secular, democratic Indian republic into their version of a rabidly intolerant fascist nation. And that is what you see in practice,” Yechury said.
Congress’s Anand Sharma said that the government should be directed to give a satisfactory response. “This is a diabolic agenda of the BJP and RSS,” he said.
In the Lok Sabha, Trinamool Congress MP Sultan Ahmed and SP members raised the issue, as they sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention.
At least 200 people from 57 families, mostly slum dwellers, were reportedly re-converted to Hinduism at a ceremony organised by Dharma Jagran cell of RSS and Bajrang Dal in the cantonment area of Agra on December 8.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu later told reporters that “conversion and reconversion, if forced, is wrong”. He said, “There should be no converion either through force or inducement.” He said the controversy was “an attempt to malign the government (at the Centre). It is an old card (of BJP’s opponents), which has failed in the past.” Law and order, he said, “is a state subject”, implying that the onus for taking any action, if needed, was on the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking at a party briefing, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, “Most unfortunately the BJP is constantly looking for what might be called 3Cs — to confuse, to confound and to create chaos — or 3Ds — to divert attention, to digress and to depart from real issues. And that is why these kinds of issues are created.”
He said, “Please don’t divert and digress from issues like employment, terrorism and price-rise and therefore treat this as an attempt to divert… And we would also request the media to try and prevent focus on such issues which are sometimes deliberately created as a diversionary tactic by the ruling party and the government to take attention away from the core issues crying attention. India does not deserve it.”