Saffron Brigade’s Conversion Agenda

Each time communal fanatics linked with the saffron brigade make noise over their religious agenda of changing India into a Hindu State, they succeed in gaining media attention and providing opposition parties sufficient reason to rock the Parliament against government’s stand on this issue.

Though Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have tried asserting that their party and government have nothing to do with these issues, the country is well aware that these are hollow claims. It is well known that BJP is the political wing of the saffron brigade, a group of extremely communal, right-wing Hindu parties. By simply stating that BJP is not linked with the saffron brigade’s communal agenda, the party leaders cannot escape criticism on crucial constitutional, legal and socio-political issues. This includes the recent hype raised by saffron brigade and several BJP leaders about their conversion plans. Their aim is to convert followers of other religions, especially Islam and Christianity to Hinduism. In a few years from now, they aim to convert the entire Indian population to Hinduism.  

Undeniably, the few incidents of conversion that have taken place over the past few weeks are condemnable, constitutionally, legally, politically and socially. By stating that BJP is not responsible for these conversions, the party leaders are implying that they are least likely to interfere in whatever agenda that the saffron brigade activists are engaged in. If BJP was not in power, to a degree this stand may have been justified. But since BJP is in power, how can it not be held responsible for unconstitutional and illegal activities taking place in this country under its watch?

Constitutionally, India is a secular country. Each Indian citizen, whether a Muslim, Hindu, Christian or of any other religion, has the fundamental right and freedom to practice his religious beliefs, without disturbing the religious beliefs of others. Thus, each time a saffron brigade activist pronounces his aim of converting India into a Hindu State, he flouts the constitutional and legal principles of this country. Each time saffron brigade activists force and/or lure followers of other religions to Hinduism, they have broken the very principles of Indian law. By turning a blind eye to their activities, BJP is refusing to live up to its political and social responsibility of governing the country as it is supposed to in accordance with legal dictates laid out in the constitution.

BJP may be or may not be responsible for the conversion agenda of the saffron brigade. However, as it heads the government, the BJP cannot permit the saffron brigade to continue pursuing such divisive agenda. A few odd statements from party leaders against conversion agenda of saffron brigade are not sufficient. Legal and political action should be taken against them.

Interestingly, however aggressively saffron brigade activists may continue pursuing their conversion agenda, with tacit support from BJP, the prospects of it being a success are practically non-existent. On religious grounds, India remains an extremely conservative nation. The majority remain firmly committed to their respective religious beliefs. Within a range of few kilometres, in Delhi, India’s capital city, it is not surprising to come across several places of worship of different religious communities, which include mosques, Hindu temples and also churches. Even when communal tension prevails in the air, there is hardly any decrease in Muslims gathering together for their Friday prayers or the Christians going to their churches on Sundays.

Besides, it would be erroneous to view the Hindu community as committed followers of similar beliefs. There are too many castes and numerous sects, worshipping different deities in this religion. There prevails the trend to treat newly converts as outsiders, of another caste. In fact, it is the caste system, responsible for treating extremely lower castes as “untouchable,” that has over the years prompted a large number of them to start following other religions.
The hidden agenda behind the saffron brigade’s conversion plan may be to lure these back to Hinduism. It may be noted here that Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader, Mayawati, is a Buddhist. Buddhism is one of the religions that a large number of lower caste Hindus have converted to, to escape being condemned as untouchables in the Hindu community. They also constitute a significant percentage of the vote-bank in the Hindi belt.

Recently, while pronouncing his conversion agenda, a saffron brigade activist said that converts can choose their own castes and all would be treated equally. He probably deliberately stated this to “convince” others that there would be no discrimination and/or practice of untouchability against newly converts.

In India, it is still not easy to convince one and all of such profound claims made by saffron brigade activists. There still remain separate water-wells in Indian villages for higher caste and lower caste Hindus. Even in cities, where poor and people of lower income reside, there remains a separate area for residences of lower caste Hindus.

However aggressive they may be, saffron brigade activists do not represent the entire Hindu community. The majority of legislators making the maximum noise against their conversion agenda, from ranks of opposition, are Hindus!    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2015 on page no. 11

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