Govt unlikely to cross RSS hard line

The NDA government may have been pushed into a corner in Parliament over the conversion issue, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP ministers are unlikely to cross the RSS line drawn by its chief Mohan Bhagwat recently.

Bhagwat’s speech at a function held in Kolkata on Saturday, where he dared opposition parties to support a legislation banning religious conversions, indicates that the government and the RSS are on the same page on the controversial issue.

“We are trying to create a strong Hindu society. Those who have strayed, they have not gone on their own. They have been allured and have been forcibly taken away. When the thief is being caught and my property has been recovered, when I am taking back my own property, what is new in it,” Bhagwat had asked.

Around the same time, BJP chief Amit Shah in Chennai repeated Bhagwat’s pro-Hindu agenda. He said the government was ready to bring an anti-conversion law but so called “secular” parties were not supporting it. A senior minister expressing surprise over opposition creating pandemonium on Bhagwat’s statement, said that what the RSS supremo publicly articulated was nothing new and not different from the government’s position.

“We had also proposed for a law to check forceful conversion but the opposition developed cold feet as the secular forces would not be able to take a stand on what Christian missionaries are doing in tribal belt,” he said. Responding to the opposition’s repeated demand for seeking Modi’s clarification in Parliament on the issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday stressed that the country was peaceful and the NDA government or BJP were in no way have any role in conversions or “re-conversions”.

He emphasised that the states were free to act if they come across instances of forceful conversions in their jurisdiction. A senior minister pointed out why political parties are silent on reports about Christians converting Hindus.

Though the ministers and leaders believe that they are on the same page on the issue of conversion, one of them said they would like the Hindu outfits not to be as brazen as they did in Agra as they fear that prolonged discussion on the subject may mar buoyant mood and development agenda.

Interestingly, another minister pointed out that conversion is an issue more for anglicised population than people residing outside metros. He felt that English newspapers and television channels were pedalling such news more than the vernacular media.

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