Free Press Journal

Katheria did not speak anything objectionable: Rajnath


New Delhi: Rejecting Opposition demand for sacking of Union Minister Ram Shankar Katheria and slapping of sedition charge against him for an alleged hate speech in Agra, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said he did not say anything “objectionable” and media reports on the event appeared to be “distorted and incorrect”.

Observing that the Agra police was seized of the matter and law and order was a state subject, he said it is expected that Uttar Pradesh government will conduct the investigation of the case in a “fair and impartial manner” and take necessary action.

“The government is opposed to all statements/speeches which divide the country on the basis of religion, caste and creed. This government is fully committed to the Constitution and the law of the land,” Singh said in Rajya Sabha while replying a calling attention on this issue.

He said the government had examined the video recording of the February 28 condolence meeting of slain VHP leader Arun Mathur, where Minister of State for Human Resource Development Ram Shankar Katheria had participated.

“We gave the CD to our officers. They informed that there was no objectionable utterances by the Minister. He had not said anything against or used derogatory language against any community.

“No objectionable contents against any particular community have been noticed in the speech. Accordingly, the news reports appear to be distorted and incorrect,” Singh said, adding that since Katheria had not made inflammatory statements, the police did not file an FIR against him.

The Home Minister said Katheria, while offering condolences to the family of Mathur, had insisted on strict action against those responsible for his murder and sought justice and adequate compensation by the state administration.

Asserting that nobody stands to gain by violence, he said such incidents should not be given “political colour”. “We should be working for protecting unity and integrity of the country. … We should all strive to maintain a conducive atmosphere among the different communities.”

Stating that there was no end to allegations and counter- allegations on the issue, Singh said such charges “are futile. These are natural thing. I don’t want to get into what is right and wrong. I don’t want to say it was said for political mileage.”

The Minister said India was the only secular country in the world and urged all members to work together to “make it a beautiful nation”.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the Home Minister’s statement on the issue, Javed Ali Khan (SP) said “the government and the party is moving in different directions. There would have been better coordination had the Home Minister been the Prime Minister of the country.”

“I have seen Rajnath Singh as Chief Minister of UP. The Home Minister is now reading a statement prepared by others,” he said in a tongue-and-cheek remark.

Blaming the government for making things complicated, Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said, “Various things have been said from both sides. I want to say to you, Home Minister, this will not go on for long.”

He said inflammatory speeches were being made daily, making the government a “laughing stock”. “Your ministers and MPs are making such statements. No action has been taken by your government,” he said.

“If the government is serious to go along, please stop all such activities,” Yadav said. Stating that Parliament’s time was being wasted on such issues, he said many serious problems facing the country are not been discussed here because the time is wasted on such matters.

“Our Leader of Opposition wanted to discuss this. What can I do? He wanted to explain the whole issue in the House,” the JD(U) chief added. Attacking the government for not respecting the secular provisions of the Constitution, Mayawati (BSP) said ever since the BJP-led government has come to power, BJP and RSS leaders and even ministers holding constitutional posts were making “irresponsible” statements giving communal colour.

“Katheria made an inflammatory speech which created hatred in UP. That Minister should have been sacked. Why no action has been taken against him?” she asked.

“It is unfortunate that the SP government in UP did not take action against the minister. It should have filed sedition charge against him. If we were in power, our party would have taken immediate action,” Mayawati said.

Emphasising the need to control such elements, she said her government had taken action against BJP leader Varun Gandhi when he had made irresponsible statements.

“The Home Minister should take stringent action against Katheria. Either he should resign or sacked. Please do not have fear, what PM will say. You have the responsibility. You have to do it within your jurisdiction. You should not be under any pressure,” she said.

Opposition members, including Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, gunned for Katheria and other RSS-BJP leaders for making inflammatory speeches and sought registration of sedition cases against them.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes abroad and talks about development and technology with global leaders. He talks about ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’. But there are BJP leaders who talk about cutting hands and fan communal tension. This is double speak. They are indulging in divisive politics,” Azad said.

Maintaining that a sedition case was filed against JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar based on “a doctored” video”, he asked if sedition case was not applicable on this Minister, MPs and MLAs. “They are the ones who are spreading venom between Hindus and Muslims. Sedition cases should be filed against them.”

He named BJP MPs like Sakshi Maharaj, Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Niranajan and said they were spreading venom but the government or the party has not taken any action.

Azad also slammed Union Minister Mahesh Sharma for terming the Dadri incident, in which a Muslim man was lynched merely on suspicion of consuming beef, as an “accident”.

In between, Azad lost his cool when Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said he has finished his seven minutes of talk time. “In that case, we will walk out,” he threatened. The matter was finally resolved when Kurien gave permission to Azad to speak for another 10 minutes.

CPI leader D Raja joined Azad in slamming the government saying he does not know the ‘Mother India’ that the government always talks about. “The Mother India that I follow loves Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Chirstians and everybody.”

Congress leader Hussain Dalwai said he has not seen a weaker Prime Minister than Modi who cannot take action against his own cadre. “If Indira Gandhi was the PM, she would have thrown out such a person from her cabinet,” he said.

Stating that the Home Minister’s statement was “most disappointing”, K Rahman Khan (INC) said “I know that while making this statement, he must have compromised his conscience. He has hidden the truth.”

He sought to know if the goverment want to rule on development plank or on poison. “If an MP or MLA spreads venom, thousands of brains are poisoned. … We pity all those who are spreading poison and dividing the country.”

K N Balagopal (CPI-M) asked why the government is not taking legal recourse if newspaper reports are incorrect. The incidents in JNU and Hyderabad University shows the government’s intent, he said.