The controversy come just weeks ahead of Mother Teresa’s canonisation on September 4, when celebrations are expected in her adopted city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) despite the Nobel Laureate’s divisive legacy in India.Yogi Adityanath, an outspoken MP and Hindu priest, told a religious meeting in Uttar Pradesh state on Saturday that Mother Teresa had been “part of a conspiracy for Christianisation of India”.Hindu poor, particularly from lower castes, turn to missionaries when they are unable to afford medical care for their children, but are “brainwashed” into becoming Christians, he warned.“It is a conspiracy against the Hindus,” said Mr Adityanath, 44. “Hindus were targeted in the name of doing service and then converted by her.”He added that large-scale Christian conversions “led to to separatist movements” in parts of northeast, including Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland.
The northeastern states neighbouring Kolkata are home to many of India’s 28 million Christians, especially among tribal communities visited by missionaries since colonial times. Nagaland, a Christian-majority state, has in particular has suffered a long-running violent separatist movement.Mr Adityanath is seen as the extreme face of the BJP’s “Hindutva” agenda, which aspires to a non-secular India, and equates Hinduism with patriotism.But his position was backed on Wednesday bySubramanian Swamy, a highly prominent firebrand politician recently promoted to India’s senate by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.“You see the issue of Yogi Adityanath expressing his view is not an isolated view,” Mr Swamy told ANI.“If you go to Google you would get a lots of books about her,” he said, referring to the works of polemicist Christopher Hitchens who once famously called Mother Teresa a “thieving, fanatical Albanian dwarf”.Mr Swamy also raised Mother Teresa’s alleged support for the scandal-hit American financierCharles Keating.The row echoes claims made last year by Mohan Bhagwat, leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which nurtured Mr Modi as a young man, that Mother Teresa’s charitable works were aimed at converting the poor to Christianity.Mother Teresa, who was born in Macedonia to Albanian parents, was hailed worldwide for her work helping the poor and diseased.But some in Kolkata resent that their city became a byword for poverty due to her work. – The Telegraph, 22 June 2016» Andrew Marszal is The Telegraph’s correspondent in New Delhi.