New Delhi: The opposition parties on Friday demanded that Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani should apologize over her remarks in the Rajya Sabha about Goddess Durga.
Stating that she herself worships Goddess Durga, the minister rejected the demand saying it was being made merely to prove a point.
As the upper House met for the day's business on Friday, the opposition members were on their feet demanding Irani's apology for reading out in the house "blasphemous" comments about the goddess from a pamphlet allegedly written and distributed by some JNU students.
The minister clarified she was being asked to explain what proof does she have against the students and that is why she read out from the pamphlet.
"I read it because I was asked to explain," the minister said, adding that she herself was a "practising Hindu" and she did not want to hurt any body's religious feelings.
"I, myself, am a practising Hindu and a Durga worshipper. The documents I read (from) yesterday are official documents from the university... these are not documents of the government," the minister said.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said it is a "very serious issue" and that there were campaigns against many religious figures but those campaigns cannot be repeated in the House.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi attacked the opposition parties, saying it had become a pattern for them to seek a short-duration discussion, calling attention motions and an apology in every session, while showing no interest in legislative business.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said it has been a tradition that nothing blasphemous or against any community will be raised in the house and assured that he would go through the records and expunge anything blasphemous.