Not Paying Tribute to Singhal is Intolerance: BJP Slams AAP

New Delhi
Not Paying Tribute to Singhal is Intolerance: BJP Slams AAP

The Winter Session of Delhi Assembly today began on an acrimonious note as BJP MLAs' demand to pay homage to late VHP leader Ashok Singhal was opposed by AAP legislators and rejected by Speaker, a move termed as an act of "intolerance" by the saffron outfit.

The House also discussed the issue of 'growing intolerance' in the country, among many other matters that included unauthorised colonies in the capital.

Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta, who raised the demand for paying tribute to Singhal immediately after the House observed two minutes silence for the victims of Paris terror attack, termed the ruling party's step as an act of "intolerance" in itself.

Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said Gupta's demand could not be met as Singhal never held any government post and was never a member of the Union or state legislatures. He expunged a derogatory remark used against AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan from the proceedings.

However, Gupta claimed that the term was used by the AAP MLA against Singhal instead. The allegations and counter- allegations dominated the proceedings throughout the day.

At one point, Goel shouted at BJP MLA O P Sharma asking him not to "come out with his 56 inch chest" and disrupt the proceedings. On being confronted by the Opposition as to why he attended a condolence organised for Singhal, Goel said it was his "personal choice".

AAP MLAs, including Jagdeep Singh, Amantullah Khan, Somnath Bharti, vociferously protested the demand made by Gupta and two other BJP legislators, claiming that Singhal had played a "divisive role" in his life and had participated in the movement for demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

In the face of stiff opposition by AAP MLAs, the deceased VHP leader's name was removed from official records citing his "communal background" and "divisive role", according to a government official.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was not present in the Assembly when the session began at 2 PM. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was present in the House.

Sisodia said terming the colonies "unauthorised" was insulting to its residents as they enjoyed equal rights like others.

"The amount of work we will do in the next five years has not been done in the last twenty years. AAP government takes full responsibility of the colonies notwithstanding the fact that successive BJP and Congress government's did nothing for so long," he said.

The AAP Cabinet, which today passed the Jan Lokpal Bill, has decided to introduce six bills, including Code of Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, Delhi School Education Amendment Bill and Minimum Wages Amendment Bill in this session which is to continue till November 28.

BJP MLA Jagdish Pradhan gave Sisodia a set of pictures portraying the status of few such colonies, where he said no developmental work has been done after AAP came to power. He was seconded by fellow MLAs Gupta and Sharma.

Sisodia refuted the charges saying the government had for the first time initiated the laying of pipelines in almost nine colonies and appealed the Centre to expeditiously clear the policies approved by the AAP government so that people can "live with dignity".

Gupta said that the government had not informed the Business Advisory Committee about its decision to introduce five of the Bills although "the media was informed of the same".

Only the Delhi (Right of Citizen to Time Bound Delivery of Services) Act 2011 has been approved by the LG for introduction in the House, Gupta said, adding that the credit does not go to AAP as it was "approved by the previous government".

"In case of five out of six Bills, the prior approval of the Lt Governor has not been obtained as per rules. These Bills will become null and void even after introduction and approval of the Vidhan Sabha on account of not following laid down procedure," Gupta said.

Initiating the discussion on intolerance, AAP Wazirpur MLA Rajesh Gupta alleged that RSS and right wing fundamentalist groups have been spreading hatred among people and trying to create fear in their minds.

"The Prime Minister talks of Mahatma Gandhi when on foreign soil, but right wing groups talk of Godse in the country...If people were punished after riots such as 1984, situation like this would not have emerged," he said.

He also referred to the Prime Minister's Twitter account saying Modi "follows those who are known to create trouble in the society" and questioned his "silence" over the incidents.

AAP cabinet minister Kapil Mishra said, "When Shah Rukh Khan can be compared with Hafiz Saeed and Prakash Singh Badal with Nelson Mandela we can imagine the level of tolerance BJP has. Dalia Lama has said that this country will not tolerate intolerance. One is Dalai Lama and the other is 'fly-Lama'," he said in an apparent reference to Modi.

He also referred to the Kerala House row and alleged that the Delhi Police had raided the state guest house making it seem like "terrorists" were holed up in its premises.

"Whenever one opposes fundamentalism and refuses to toe the line of the right wing ideology, they are branded anti-nationals. This is because a certain section is sitting at helm of power. To run the country we don't need a big chest but a large heart," Mishra said.

Making his observations on the same issue, Speaker Goel crticised the Congress government in Karnataka over its handling of protests against the Tipu Sultan birth anniversary celebrations.

AAP leader Jarnail Singh said, "The recent communal incidents, including the incidents of sacrilege in Punjab, have marginalised the minorities and anti-national elements protected by the BJP are trying to divide the country."

Singh also urged the Delhi Chief Minister and his deputy to write a letter to the Prime Minister over the issue.

Okhla MLA Amanatullah, who earlier traded charges with Opposition leader Gupta on the Singhal issue, wondered why action was not taken against the perpetrators of 1992 Mumbai riots or the demolition on Babri Masjid.

"While Yakub Memon was sent to the gallows, the top leaders instrumental in the Babri demolition were allowed to go. The Sri Krishna Commission report said that if Babri would not have happened, there would not have been Mumbai blasts," he said.

Laxmi Nagar legislator Nitin Tyagi took on Union Minister V K Singh for his controversial dog analogy in the wake of the Faridabad Dalit killings.

AAP MLAs Rakhi Birla and Somnath Bharti presented the second report of Committee on Private Members Bills and Resolutions during the session.

AAP leader Somnath Bharti and former minister Jitender Singh Tomar were also present in the House. Bharti, embattled in a domestic violence case, was in the thick of things as he aimed barbs at the Opposition leaders.

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