Rajnath Singh on Tuesday extended an olive branch to writers, filmmakers and intellectuals who have returned their awards in view of ‘rising intolerance’ in the country, requesting them to take back their awards.
During the debate on ‘intolerance’ in Lok Sabha, which went on for 7 hours, the Union home minister said he is willing to sit with anyone and sort out their misgivings on the functioning of the government while taking on board their apprehensions and suggestions.
“I appeal to the artists, literary people, scientists and other eminent people who have returned the awards to kindly take their awards back,” the minister said during his speech in Lok Sabha.
“The doors of this government are open for any discussion over tolerance or intolerance with those who have misgivings about our functioning”, he added.
Ribbed by the Opposition, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on the issue of intolerance including Dadri killing, Singh put the ball in UP government’s court.
“When we found out about Dadri, I immediately issued an advisory and sought a report from the Uttar Pradesh government on the incident.
“The UP government report made no mention of any communal angle. Even the word beef was not mentioned,” the home minister told the Parliament.
He, however, announced that should the Akhilesh Yadav government recommend it, the home ministry is ready to “immediately launch a CBI probe into the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi so that truth is out in the open.”
Singh, during whose speech the Opposition staged a walkout, said: “I want to assure this House, on behalf of myself and the Prime Minister, that if anyone tries to harm the social and religious harmony, he will not be spared”.
Rahul Gandhi during his speech had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of silent acquiescence for not objecting to Union minister General VK Singh’s statement on Dalits and “carrying on as if nothing happened”.
“VK Singh sworn in as MP and was the General of Indian Army, he compared Dalit children to dogs; by doing this he directly challenged the Constitution but PM remained silent over the matter,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Rejecting his charges, Rajnath Singh said: “You ask why PM is silent on VK Singh. Every time something like this happened in the past, did the PM respond?”
“Home ministry is my portfolio. I’m responsible for what’s happening in the country. Whenever any incident happens that threatens to disturb the communal and social harmony, I immediately speak on it and if needed, take necessary action.
“On VK Singh’s remark, I released a statement saying we should be careful about what we say or say in such a manner so that it isn’t open to malicious interpretations”
“Gen VK Singh himself released a clarification, stating that his statement was twisted out of context,” the home minister told the Parliament. “Yes, our government is intolerant. We are intolerant towards corruption, unclean surroundings, terrorism, violence against women and such issues.”
On Monday, Rajnath Singh had demanded an apology in Lok Sabha from CPM MP Mohammad Salim, who had, during the debate on intolerance, cited a report in Outlook magazine that had quoted the Union home minister as making a communal statement.
After the controversy, during which Rajnath Singh said: “He had never felt so hurt as today in my political career”, Outlook issued a statement via Twitter, clarifying that the quote was wrongly attributed to Rajnath.
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Please take back your awards, Rajnath’s olive branch to award-returnees
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