New Delhi, Mar 3: Home Minister Rajnath Singh today defended Union Minister Ram Shankar Katheria over hate speech allegations, saying he did not say anything “objectionable”, rejecting strident demands by the Opposition in Rajya Sabha for booking him on sedition charges and his removal. Singh’s defence came as opposition parties mounted an offensive against the government over “inflammatory” speeches by Katheria in Agra and some BJP and RSS leaders with BSP chief Mayawati saying if her party had been in power in Uttar Pradesh these communal elements would have been despatched to jail, “the place where they belong”. Also read: India most secular country, says Rajnath Singh
Mayawati and other opposition members, including Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, sought registration of sedition cases against these leaders. Singh said the government had examined the video recording of the February 28 condolence meeting of slain VHP leader Arun Mathur in Agra, where Ketheria, the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, 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.
Singh was replying to a spirited discussion on a calling attention motion on the issue of alleged hate speeches being made by elected representatives. “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,” he added. 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”. “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. 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.