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Government, opposition clash stalls Rajya Sabha

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Government, opposition clash stalls Rajya Sabha
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New Delhi: The logjam over the issue of religious conversions continued in the Rajya Sabha Thursday, with the government and the opposition locked in a blame game.

This forced the chair to adjourn the house twice -- once until noon and then till 2 p.m.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present during question hour, and the opposition insisted that he must listen to them and give a reply.

"There is resistance on an issue. Now the prime minister is here, we have no intention to disrespect him... He must respond," Congress leader Anand Sharma said.

The government, however, slammed the opposition, saying it appeared to be only interested in creating roadblocks in the functioning the house.

"The notice for this discussion under Rule 267 (adjournment of question hour) came Monday. We agreed for a debate," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

"But the opposition wants to decide how the debate will happen, who will respond," he said.

He said even after the last statement by the prime minister, the house was not allowed to function.

"The (prime minister's) response was conciliatory. It indicated the house should go on.

"But someone said this is not acceptable, and that is where competitive politics of disruption started," said Jaitley.

Chairman M. Hamid Ansari asked Sharma to initiate the debate. But Sharma insisted that the prime minister must first respond.

To this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu retorted: "Do you take responsibility for the people who created disturbances for three days after the prime minister responded last time?"

The issue, which has stalled the Rajya Sabha since Monday, was raised again during zero hour.

Sharma accused the government of arrogance. Jaitley rejected the charge.

"The opposition is saying the government is being arrogant. When the session started, the prime minister came to the house and made a statement which should have had a sobering effect on the members," Jaitley said.

"(But) the statement was virtually rejected," Jaitley added.

"Now an issue is being raised. Let me assure the house that the government has no intention of being arrogant. We want house to function.

"The fact is one of the two houses is functioning normally, the other is not being allowed to function normally. It is the arrogance of numbers and not the arrogance of the government," the minister said.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury called it a "tyranny of majority" which was making the other house function.

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