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Rahul Gandhi on Hindus: PM Modi, five ministers lead charge; seek apology from Rahul Gandhi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and five senior ministers put up a spirited defence as Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi came down heavily on the central government over its policies in a speech in Lok Sabha on Monday afternoon.

In what was a rare defence seen on the floor of Lok Sabha, defence minister Rajnath Singh, home minister Amit Shah, agriculture minister Shivraj Chouhan, parliamentary affairs minister Kiren Rijiju and environment minister Bhupender Yadav tried to corner Gandhi over facts and parliamentary procedures and demanded his apology.

Modi rose twice to object to Gandhi’s remarks on how BJP fomented hatred and violence. Modi said: “This is a very grave matter. To call the entire Hindu community violent is a very serious matter.” Gandhi turned it around and said, “No, no, no. Narendra Modi is not the entire Hindu community. BJP is not the entire Hindu community. RSS is not the entire Hindu community.”

Modi’s second intervention – that the Constitution had taught him to “respect the post of the Leader of the Opposition, which is held today by Gandhi” – drew jeers from the Opposition benches. There were jeers because the Opposition has claimed the government is trying to subvert the Constitution, a charge BJP has trashed. Gandhi was among the MPs who added “Jai Samvidhan” to their oaths last month. “It feels nice… BJP people are repeating ‘Jai Samvidhan’ after me,” he quipped.

Even Gandhi’s stance while speaking was pointed out. Environment minister Bhupendra Yadav took out the rulebook and cited Rules 349 (12) and 352 (2) and said Gandhi was disrespecting the Speaker. Yadav said: “Leader of Opposition is addressing the House for the first time. I would like to point out two rules Rule 349 (12) and 352. First of all, LoP should know how to speak in the House. 349 (12 ) specifies the Speaker shall not sit or stand with back towards the chair. He is constantly speaking with his back towards the chair. Rule 352 (2) says ‘make personal reference by way of making an allegation imputing a motive or questioning a bonafide’ . He has not only levied an allegation against the entire government but the entire Hindu community.” Shah said, “You cannot hide such a big issue by creating ruckus in the House. LoP has said that whoever calls themselves Hindu they are violent. want to repeat his sentence those who call themselves Hindus, they talk of violence and are violent. In this country, probably he doesn’t know crores of people identify themselves as Hindus with pride. Do they all talk of violence? He should apologise for linking a particular religion to violence.”InIn another instance, Gandhi claimed that Agniveers were not getting the compensation of ₹1 crore as announced by the government. Once again Shah interjected and said: “He should put forward the facts and if these are not facts, he should apologise to Agniveers and the entire nation.” Gandhi was unfazed and said that he had put forth the truth of Agniveers on the floor of the House and the families knew the truth. “It doesn’t make a difference what I say or you say.” To this, Rijiju appealed to the Speaker to intervene: “How can he take it so lightly?”Gandhi claimed that the Agnipath scheme had been introduced without proper discussion. Rajnath Singh got up and intervened: “Please don’t mislead the House. This scheme was introduced after a lot of discussion it was discussed with 158 organisations. Such a scheme is there in the US, UK and other countries. Nobody has any problem. Making these statements without understanding is highly irresponsible. I would request you Speaker Sir to please expunge these remarks.”

Gandhi continued, “It does not matter, you like Agniveer. We don’t like Agniveer scheme. Once our government comes, we will stop it. We don’t want it.”