Narendra Modi's non-greeting on Eid churns row in Parliament; Pashupatinath temple invoked

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 6 2014, 02:57am hrs
Opposition members in the Lok Sabha today sought to rake up an rake up issue accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not greeting Muslims on the occasion of Eid while noting that he had offered prayers in Nepal's famed centuries-old Pashupatinath Temple yesterday.

Raising the issue during zero hour, Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay recalled the Prime Minister's visit to the Pashupatinath Temple yesterday and his donation of ghee and 2500 kg of sandalwood.

He said he appreciated the action of the Prime Minister, but equally he expected him to wish Eid Mubarak to the other community. He wanted to know why this "differentiation".

Noting that India believed in the principles of secularism, communal harmony and national integration, he said "some evil forces are trying to create communal tension".

Bandopadhyay cautioned the government to "remain alert, cautious and vigilant to prevent communal incidents as otherwise safety and security of the common man and the secular fabric will be under threat."

A number of members including NCP leader Tariq Anwar, Bhagwant Mann (AAP) and K Kavitha (TRS) associated himself with the TMC leader, as also Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Disputing Bandopahdyay's submission, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said "I want to put on record that this government believes in 'sarva dharma sambhav'. And the Prime Minister has greeted 'Eid Mubarak' to members of the Muslim community", he said.

As Speaker Sumitra Mahajan moved over to the next issue, Congress members were in the Well demanding that Chowdhury be allowed to have his say and merely associating with the TMC leader would not do.

The House saw a brief adjournment as SP and RJD members stormed the Well demanding cancellation of the CSAT exam for civil services.

Later, Chowdhury, who was allowed to have his say, said India's historic civilisation has always adhered to the philosophy of 'live and let live'.

He said he had no objection to the PM visiting temples but he should also follow certain traditions followed by successive Prime Ministers, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The Speaker disallowed some remarks by Chowdhury, observing that he was making "personal comments" which she would not allow. She said Naidu has already said the government has equal respect for all religions.

Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Chowdhury said that from Pashupati to Tirupati, Modi can pray wherever he wants as there is nothing wrong with that.

"But as Prime Minister, certain duties have to be fulfilled. After Independence, every Prime Minister has been arranging 'Iftar' in the month of Ramzaan. This is the first occasion that the Prime Minister did not arrange an 'Iftar'.

He could not even go to an Iftar hosted by the President," Chowdhury said.

He said a message goes out that the Indian Prime Minister only wants to be a "Prime Minister of the Hindus."