RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat avoided questions on the controversy over religious conversion, saying it was not his job to comment on such issues.
Asked to respond on an issue that has stalled the Rajya Sabha for days, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader said: “There others who are authorised to speak. It is not my job.”
Bhagwat was in Goa to attend a social event in Panaji organised by Giants International, an NGO.
RSS-affiliated groups have been accused of persuading members from the minority communities to embrace Hinduism.
The opposition continued its demand for a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of conversions, disrupting zero hour in the Rajya Sabha.
Raising the issue, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had been busy with Jammu and Kashmir elections and was not present in the house earlier, said the issue is serious and no one but the prime minister can give an assurance.
“The conversions that are taking place, I read a statement from a US secretary that they are monitoring the situation,” said Azad.
“The prime minister gets respect wherever he goes because he is representing the diverse people of India,” said Azad.
He said Modi needs to assure the nation that people and their religion are safe.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar then suggested that Azad should start the debate right away. However, opposition members once again trooped near chairman’s podium.
The house was then adjourned till noon.
The scene remained similar when the house met again for question hour.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader P. Rajeeve urged Chairman M. Hamid Ansari to allow debate on conversion issue and postpone business on private members’ bill.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the opposition cannot dictate who will respond to the debate.
Ansari said the rules say if members are not satisfied with the reply to a debate, then can give notice and take it further.
“If on any occasion, the house feels they are not satisfied with the reply to a debate, there are procedures to take it further. Why are we jumping? We are at the first stage,” said Ansari.
As opposition members refused to relent, the house was adjourned till 2.30 p.m..