With the BJP facing heat in Parliament over alleged forced conversions in Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, the party’s firebrand MP from Gorakhpur, on Monday put the ball in the state government’s court saying it should come up with an anti-conversion law if it disapproves of the forthcoming “ghar wapsi” event in Aligarh.
Defending the planned December 25 programme, Adityanath, who is known for his alleged inflammatory remarks, sought to differentiate it from conversions. “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 told The Indian Express.
On the “ghar wapsi” event by RSS-affiliate Dharm Jagran Samiti in Aligarh, Adityanath asserted: “It’s absolutely wrong to say that we were trying to force people to convert, else there would not have been any Muslim in this country. We talk about amity, love and happiness for all. We have not forced anyone, neither we tried to impress nor offered any allurement. What we want is a hurdle-free path if one wants to reconvert willingly.”
The row rocked both houses of Parliament Monday with the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha washed out as a united Opposition created pandemonium demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance that such acts would not be allowed.
Adityanath, who was the star campaigner for the BJP for the September 13 bypolls in UP, claimed the “ghar wapsi” is a programme that takes place every year. “Traditionally, this programme is held on December 25 in different places in UP, sometimes in Agra, Aligarh or Etah. With the media highlighting it, the local government is making it a big political controversy.”
According to him, the controversy was being created unnecessarily by the SP government in UP “to deviate attention from more serious issues”. “This is an utter misuse of power that is happening in Uttar Pradesh,” he said.
“If the government feels that it’s not right, the state government should bring a law banning conversion,” he said.
The five-time MP, however, was of the view that the HRD Ministry’s reported move to issue a circular to government-run schools, asking them to remain open on Christmas Day for a proposed “Good Governance Day”, should not be “imposed”.
“Let people traditionally celebrate. There is no need for panic. Let them celebrate in the way they normally do. But if anyone wants to participate in the programme (in schools on the Christmas day) , they should be allowed. There should not be any imposition,” he said.