Mayawati govt rejects Opposition demand to ban Periyar's Ramayan

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Lucknow, Nov 5 (UNI) The opposition BJP today staged a walkout in the the state legislative assembly as the Mayawati government rejected a joint Opposition demand to ban Dalit icon E V Ramaswamy Naicker Periyar's 'Sachhi Ramayana'.

When the BJP and other Opposition parties raised the demand to ban the book during Zero Hour, State Parliamentary Affairs minister Lalji Verma said the government was not aware that the book was on sale in Uttar Pradesh. He added the government respected the sentiments of all the communities and believed in the principle of benefit to all.

The government, however, did not concede to the demand of banneing the printing and sale of the controversial book in the state. To this, BJP members staged a walkout of the proceedings.

BJP legislature party leader Om Prakash Singh had demanded the government ban the printing and sale of the book as it was spreading hatered. He also demanded a reply from Leader of the House and Chief Minister Mayawati on the issue.

Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) claimed the government's attitude was taking the society towards slavery (ghulami). Meanwhile, officiating leader of Congress Legislature party Pramod Tiwari said, the BJP was also responsible for the sale of the book in the state. He claimed in 1995, BSP and BJP were sharing power in UP and then the BJP had not raised the issue.

Earlier today, when the house had met for the day, the joint Opposition had launched an offensive against the BSP government's decision against banning 'Sachhi Ramayana'. A few days ago, when the BJP had raised the issue and had written to all members of the state legislature, Chief Minister Mayawati had said the book would not be banned as the BSP and the government had nothing to do with the publication and sale of the book, which is the Hindi version of Periyar's 'True Ramayana'.

Principal Opposition Samajwadi Party, BJP and the Congress teamed up against the Mayawati government as soon as the house proceedings began. Moving an adjournment motion to discuss the contents of the book, the opposition raised slogans against the government.

Speaker Sukhdev Rajbhar asked the Opposition to raise the issue during Zero Hour as the matter was not of an immediate importance.

Leader of the Opposition Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) termed the sale of 'Sachhi Ramayana' in Uttar Pradesh as ''unfortunate.'' ''It has hurt the sentiments of the people...not one should have a right to hurt the faith of others,'' he said.

He said the BJP should not be the only party to protest the issue. ''We also protest the sale and publication of such a book,'' he added.

State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Lalji Verma (BSP) charged the Opposition with raking up an old issue. ''Since the opposition does not have anything new, it is raising old issues,'' he added.

Soon after that, the SP members rushed to the Well of the house raising anti-government slogans. BJP members joined them in the Well of the house holding banners demanding ban on the book.

The Speaker had adjourned the house till 1220 hrs and the Question Hour could not be held.

Leader of the House and Chief Minister was not present during the Opposition's protest.

UNI

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