Questioning his party’s stand on the ‘ghar wapsi’ reconversion campaign of Hindutva organisations, first-time BJP MP and Dalit leader Udit Raj told the party national executive that the campaign had sullied India’s image on the world stage.
BJP leaders present at the Bangalore meeting last week told The Indian Express that Udit Raj raised the issue in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and other senior leaders.
“He spoke passionately that the Christian community in the country is feeling insecure and the international community is concerned about the toxic atmosphere created by the ‘ghar wapsi’ campaign. He said the BJP, in its political resolution, should send a strong message against it,” one of the leaders said.
Asked about it, Udit Raj, MP from North-West Delhi, confirmed he had raised the matter, and that his speech had initiated a “debate” on the issue at the party meet.
“I raised the issue because the opposition is spreading the word that minorities are unsafe under the BJP government and that we are against minorities. Time and again, they have raised it and the image of the country and the government has been hit by the campaign,” he said.
“Both the Prime Minister and (Union Minister) M Venkaiah Naidu have already rejected this. I said as a responsible party, the BJP should send this message that we are detached from this.”
Udit Raj, who is also national chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, declined to go into details.
Sources, however, said Udit Raj asked Prime Minister Modi how will he face global leaders when he meets them on his tours abroad.
Mentioning that he was in touch with Christian leaders, he told the meeting that community leaders abroad, especially in the US and Europe, keep “close track” of developments in India and will “pressure” their leadership which, in turn, could affect ties.
Following his intervention, a few others also spoke on the matter and Naidu replied to the debate. The minister explained that many of the incidents, alleged as attacks on minorities, were “simple criminal acts” and it was the opposition parties that had created the impression that these were communal attacks.
Referring to the gangrape of a nun in West Bengal and attacks on churches in Delhi, Naidu said all such incidents were committed by anti-social elements and there was no communal angle to them. “He urged the party to counter the campaign and protect the image of the government. Naidu also warned party leaders against making controversial statements,” said another leader who did not wish to be named.
Udit Raj’s intervention comes at a time when the RSS is trying to “bring out unknown angles” of the personality of BR Ambedkar. Sangh mouthpieces Organiser and Panchjanya will be bringing out a 200-page special supplement on Ambedkar on April 14, his 125th birth anniversary which is being celebrated by the BJP with fanfare across the country.
Some of the articles explain how the Dalit leader had vehemently opposed “Islamic aggression” and “conversion to Islam” which the RSS leaders view as his support to ‘ghar wapsi’. Sources said around 500,000 copies will be distributed in the states.