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New Delhi(PTI): Amid a raging row over ‘ghar wapsi’ programme of right wing Hindutva groups, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said religious conversions have been happening for over 200 years with the help of foreign money.
He reaffirmed that the government had nothing to do with the re-conversion efforts of Hindu hardliners and was prepared to enact a law to ban conversions provided there is a consensus across the political spectrum.
“Conversions and re-conversions are happening for the last 200 years, much before formation of the Modi government. A lot of foreign money is being spent for conversion. It’s an open secret to everybody,” Naidu said addressing the 13th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in Gandhinagar which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
Arya Samaj founder Dayanand Saraswati had undertaken re-conversion programmes way back in 1923 and that was supported by many Congress leaders of the time, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister claimed.
However, taking a libertarian line, the government had not acted against foreign funding for religious conversion because it felt faith and religion were matters of personal choice, he said. Maintaining that development and delivery of good governance were the only agenda of the NDA government, he said the government will step in and enact a law to ban conversions if there was a political consensus.
“The government is willing to go for a law provided there is a consensus, provided there is a request from all political parties, then only govt will step in. The government is in no way involved in this, none of my ministers or none of my party people, please try to understand,” he said.
“If re-conversion is bad, then conversion also is bad. We do not support any religion, government has no religion.
“This is Indianness, this is Hindutva. The word Hindu is not linked to a particular religion. This should be clear in everybody’s mind,” he said. The minister said people with “empty upper chamber” were not getting the government’s point of view on the issue.