Amid rising incidents of communal tension across the country, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to “all religious sects or societies to act with restraint and respect towards everyone”.
Singh was speaking at the centenary celebrations of Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the emeritus Metropolitan of Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Kerala. “India has been united not because one religion or some theological thought held political power or exercised control on the system” but because it provided “space to peaceful co-existence of multiple thoughts and theologies”, Singh said.
Expressing concern over violence in the name of religion across the globe, Singh said, “It is a cause of grave concern for us. I firmly believe that the ancient Indian thought of respect and acceptance for all faiths is the only way to ensure peace and harmony in the age of growing religious clashes and conflict.”
Citing Swami Vivekananda’s words that “we believe not only in universal toleration but we accept all religions as true”, Singh said what he had said almost a hundred years ago holds true even today “in cultural sense” and “also makes political sense in this nation”.
Addressing BJP state office-bearers later in the day, Singh blamed other political parties for “spreading the rumour that the BJP is a party meant to break the society”. Singh said the BJP was a party that believes in integral humanism as well as ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’. “We accept not just our family or country but the entire world,” he said.
Singh’s remarks come at a time when the BJP is under fire for playing the “Hindu card”, a criticism triggered by statements made by some party leaders in election-bound states.
Earlier this month, BJP MLA from Belagavi Rural constituency in Karnataka drew criticism for his comments that the May 12 state polls were not a fight for good roads and drinking water but a war between Hindus and Muslims.
The spirit of tolerance has also been enshrined in the Constitution, Singh said. “It brings our attention closer to an issue which is extremely essential for maintaining peace and harmony in the modern day society,” he said.
Hailing Mar Chrysostom for showing how God can be worshipped by serving society, Singh said, “We have taken a pledge to defend Constitution. Therefore we must maintain ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhav’ and continue cementing the pillars of United India.”
Singh also attended the Navaoli Jyothirdinam celebrations at SanthiGiri Ashram, founded by Navajyothi Sree Karunakara Guru, at nearby Pothencode.