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Government's agenda is communal Hindu vote consolidation: Yechury

By Ians

New Delhi, Jan 3: Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury has alleged that the agenda being pursued by the BJP-led government is not that of development but of consolidating the communal Hindu vote bank.

In an interview to news channel CNN-IBN, the CPI-M politbureau member said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence over the issue of conversion despite the opposition's demand for his statement revealed the government's real agenda.

"...the actual agenda that the government is pursuing is not on development ... not on 'achhe din aane waale hain', but the actual agenda they are pursuing is the worst form of vote bank politics of consolidating the communal Hindu vote bank. That is the clear message," Yechury said.

Asked about stalling the upper house of parliament, Yechury said: "Well, I think it was the government who stalled it, not us".

"We had asked the government that the prime minister should come and give us an assurance. He came once - he did not apologize for the unparliamentary statement that the minister made but he nevertheless assured that henceforth nothing would happen.

"And then immediately followed a string of statements which were aimed at sharpening communal polarisation. Therefore, we said that this has to stop. And only the prime minister can come and assure us, and through us, the country. They refused. So, who stalled (the upper house)?" he said.

The upper house or Rajya Sabha witnessed disruptions for more than half the winter session, first over remarks by union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and then over reconversions and communal statements by some BJP leaders.

Yechury added that the disruptions took the message to the people, revealing the government's real agenda.

"What we have achieved is to tell the country and the people that this is the real agenda of the government. And I think in that we have succeeded. For the first time since this government assumed office a lot of questions are being raised in public discourse about what is their actual agenda and that is an important point. Because remember that the Modi government got only 31 percent of the total votes polled, not of the total electorate. Sixty nine percent of the people who actually cast their votes cast their votes against the Modi government," he said.

Asked about their views on the government proposal to ban conversions, Yechury said it was unconstitutional, but added that they are against forced conversion.

"We say that a new law is infructuous. Articles 24 and 25 of the Indian constitution, and section 153 (a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) already have enough provisions which define forcible religious conversions as a crime. People can be acted against under that law. A law exists - so what is the talk of a new law. It is only a diversion," said Yechury.

"Christian missionaries, Islamic organisations or the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha - anybody doing it forcibly, we are opposed; we continue to oppose and that is our given minimum denominator," the CPI-M leader added.

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