As the row over the issue of conversions continue, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said legislation was the only way to address it and sought support of all political parties in passing an anti- conversion law.
“We have clearly said in the Parliament that till the time an anti-conversion law is passed, conversions will continue. We want all political parties to agree so that we can pass a law against conversions,” she said.
“All parties have to agree on framing a new law,” she told a press conference here called to highlight the achievements of the NDA government since it came to power.
The issue has been the subject of a raging political debate recently and had rocked the Parliament for several days in its last session.
While the Opposition has repeatedly attacked it on the ‘ghar wapsi’ campaign by the RSS and affiliates, the government has been maintaining that it is willing to bring an anti-conversion legislation provided all parties agree to it.
Swaraj said implementation of the Jan Dhan Yojna under which 7.5 crore new bank accounts had been opened in the country so far was an example of “good governance.”
Similarly, ‘Make In India’ campaign too was an an example of the good governance, she said.
To a question, Swaraj said it was not necessary for the External Affairs Minister to always accompany the Prime Minister on his foreign tours. Commentators in the media have pointed out that while the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited several countries in the last seven months, Swaraj had not always figured in these tours.
Swaraj mentioned that her ministry had reduced the time for getting appointment with authorities for verification of documents for getting passport to seven days from the earlier 28 days. “Efforts are on to bring to three days,” she added.
When she took over, there was a shortage of five lakh passport booklets, but she ensured printing of six lakh booklets within a month, the minister said.
To a question, Swaraj said more windows and staff were necessary in the passport department. While earlier there were only two passport offices for the whole of North-East, now there were offices in all the states in the region, she said.
Asked about relations with Nepal, she said after the NDA government took over, the bilateral relations improved significantly, and several agreements, pending for years, were concluded.
On the issue of bringing back black money in overseas banks, the minister said the government had taken several steps for it and even the Prime Minister raised the issue at the G-20 summit.
Referring to cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, she said the defence forces had given a befitting reply on each occasion.
Talking about the 38 Indian nationals who have gone missing in Iraq since the terror group ISIS took over vast swathes of that country, Swaraj said the government was making every effort to trace them.
She also pointed out that it was because of the efforts of the government that 7,500 Indians were evacuated from Iraq, 3,500 from Libya and 1,000 from Ukraine in the recent months.