NEW DELHI (AFP) – India’s new Hindu nationalist premier Narendra Modi on Thursday rejected angry calls to dismiss a government minister whose derogatory comment about religious minorities has caused uproar in parliament.
India’s upper house has been paralysed by opposition protests since Niranjan Jyoti told a crowd at a campaign rally on Monday to decide whether they wanted a government run by “the children of Ram”.
Jyoti, a junior minister in the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, has since apologised for the comment, seen as an attack on religious minorities in the majority-Hindu nation.
But opposition parties have continued to demand her dismissal, and on Thursday Modi sought to stem the political fallout by urging lawmakers to accept her apology.
“This minister is new, she has entered parliament for the first time (at the last election)… She has apologised,” Modi said.
“I request the House to continue with its work in the interests of the country.”