Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday denied in the Rajya Sabha that his ministerial colleague Ram Shankar Katheria made an inflammatory speech in Agra in Uttar Pradesh, and stressed India is the most secular country in the world.
"I heard Katheria's speech and I made others hear it. We all agreed there is nothing inflammatory in the speech," Rajnath Singh said while responding to a calling attention motion on alleged inflammatory speeches by union ministers and elected representatives in violation of the Constitution and the oath of office.
He also told the Rajya Sabha that India is the most secular country in the world despite its diversity and the fact that people of all faiths live here. "If there is any secular country in the world, it is India," the home minister said.
Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Ram Shankar Katheria courted controversy after he allegedly delivered a hate speech during a condolence function held in Agra for a murdered Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader on February 28.
"India is the only country in the world where people of all faiths live," the home minister said, adding that "not only this, all major sects of all religions, including Islam and Christianity, are found here, which is not the case with any other country".
The government faced a tough time in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday as opposition members raised the issue of what they called "hate and inflammatory" speeches by BJP MPs and legislators in different parts of the country.
While D. Raja of the Communist Party of India asked Rajnath Singh why the government had not taken action against Katheria and others, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati said she would have sent Katheria behind bars had she been in power in Uttar Pradesh.
Responding to members' concern, Rajnath Singh pointed out that law and order was a state subject, and suggested that if anybody indulged in such practices he or she should be controlled and dealt with by the state governments concerned.
The minister also refused to subscribe to the anti-Muslim views vis-a-vis terrorism.
"Terrorism has no colour or religion whatsoever," Rajnath Singh asserted and added that the patriotism of Indian Muslims cannot be questioned.
"How can you say that an Indian Muslim is not a nationalist," he asked when challenged that his party members were making all sorts of anti-Muslim statements.
The minister called upon all political parties to join hands in protecting India's unity and integrity.
"A single political party cannot protect the country's unity and integrity. We all will have to make collective efforts for that," he added.
He said that every Indian has to ensure that India remains "the biggest secular country of the world".
Rajnath Singh said that communal harmony "should not be measured in terms of political gain or loss".
"It should only be measured in terms of justice and humanity."