Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeated requests urging his party leaders to desist from controversial remarks has clearly fallen on deaf ears. With the RSS, the BJP's cultural wing, backing conversions across the country, party MPs are in no mood to backtrack from the 'ghar vapsi' programme that seeks to 'bring back to its fold' lakhs of Muslims and Christians that have 'gone astray'.
At the forefront of the movement is fireband BJP MP Yogi Adityanath who doubled down on the 'reconversion' drive. Defending the move by organisations affiliated to the RSS to go ahead with the Christmas Day ghar wapsi programme, he told The Indian Express that the issue was being polticised and that it takes place annually in different parts of Uttar Pradesh.
"There is a difference between conversion and ghar wapsi. If one moves away from his or her basic religion through allurement or coercion, it is a conversion. If a converted Hindu wants to return to his basic religion willingly — without any force or allurement — no one should oppose it."
He further sought to give Prime Minister Modi's Swacch Bharat campaign a religious touch asking mutts to use the programme to regain contact with the people.
"Why don’t we care why Nalanda University was destroyed, and who destroyed it? Because the sants did not remain united and lost connect with Hindus. You should know your strength. The Prime Minister has started the Swachh Bharat campaign, become part of it to get in touch with people,” Adityanath said, addressing a a three-day ‘sant samagam’ called by the Dharm Jagran Manch of the RSS, where 2,200 heads of mutts and temples gathered.
“If 15 lakh sants start visiting 6.23 lakh villages of the country, the handful of Christian priests and maulvis will not be able to convert Hindus,” he added.
As expected, the BJP has responded to Opposition by demanding anti-conversion legislation, much on the lines of those that exist in Gujarat.
Terming the opposition from parties such as the SP as opportunistic and purely political, the Gorakhpur MP has now asked the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh - where a religious conversion programme took place earlier this month - to introduce the law.
Adityanath said, "what was happening in Uttar Pradesh was an utter misuse of power .” “If the government feels that it’s not right, the state government should bring a law banning conversion.”
And it's not just conversions that the RSS and other Hindutva organisations are out to defend. While acknowledging that the Modi government is pro-development, these organisations claim that the Hindus have for long been taken for granted.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, an RSS pracharak who refused to be named, said: "You may have a problem with the way certain MPs articulated their view but the larger sentiment was that the Hindu society should not be taken for granted. The result of the Lok Sabha elections, particularly in UP, is a case in point."
And while the government has often been put on the backfoot and made to apologise for the controversial remarks, its staunchest members are in no mood to apologise.
“There is no case to be apologetic about Hindutva. It is a way of life and not a religion,” BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
Updated Date: Dec 16, 2014 11:33 AM