Modi under pressure over minister's tirade against India's non-Hindus

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under growing pressure to sack a minister over a tirade she made against religious minorities, as his outraged opponents disrupted parliament for a second day on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under growing pressure to sack a minister over a tirade she made against religious minorities, as his outraged opponents disrupted parliament for a second day on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under growing pressure to sack a minister over a tirade she made against religious minorities, as his outraged opponents disrupted parliament for a second day on Wednesday.

Niranjan Jyoti, the junior minister for food processing industries, asked whether the country should be governed by "the children of Ram (a Hindu god) or the children of bastards" at an election rally.

The comment was widely believed to have been an attack on the legitimacy of the country's Muslim and Christian minorities.

Rival parties defeated by Modi's Hindu nationalists six months ago in a general election have staged two days of parliamentary protests to demand Jyoti's removal. Amid unruly scenes, the speaker of the upper house adjourned proceedings for the rest of the day.

"The constitution has been violated; India's laws have been violated," Anand Sharma, a senior leader of the opposition Congress party said. "We want the prime minister to come to the house and tell us he has asked the minister to go."

The protests risk disrupting a session of parliament where the government wants to build consensus to pass laws lifting the caps on foreign investment in India's insurance sector and amend a bill making it easier for companies to buy land.

Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has been accused of exploiting religious divisions in the run up to elections, a tactic that opponents say helped the party win the largest election victory in three decades in May.

Parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the minister has apologised and the house should now focus on legislative business.