The Shiv Sena came out in support of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat for his comments that conversion to Christianity was the main motive behind Mother Teresa’s service to the poor and needy.
It also charged that religious proselytisation, under the garb of social work, was an insult to the word “service” and pointed to how activists like Baba Amte, Shivajirao Patwardhan, Saint Gadge Maharaj and Dr Abhay and Rani Bang had worked for society while going beyond religion and not effecting conversions. “If secularism is propounded in politics, it must also be the case in the social sector. Otherwise, service goes hand in hand with self interest,” claimed the Sena.
An editorial on Wednesday in its mouthpiece, Saamna, commended the Sarsanghachalak for speaking the “bitter truth” and charged that “the objective behind service by missionaries who came to the country was converting people to Christianity.” “The Sarsanghachalak put the seal on what was being said by (late) Hinduhridaysamrat Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray,” it claimed, while lauding Bhagwat for fulfilling his “national duty”.
Incidentally, the Sena has been launching broadsides at the BJP through its daily, criticising it on issues like the recent killing of CPI leader Govind Pansare, the unsolved murder of rationalist and anti-superstition crusader Dr Narendra Dabholkar and farmer suicides in Maharashtra.
The Sena and BJP are part of the government in Maharashtra (where the later managed to turn the tables on it by snapping its two-decade old alliance and emerging as the single largest party in the state) and at the Centre.
“Bhagwat spoke the truth and for the past hundreds of years, the missionaries have indulged in such activities not just in the country, but across the world,” said the newspaper. It alleged that proselytisation in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and the North East were due to the “inducements given out in the name of service by missionaries” and charged that these attempts to exploit hunger and deprivation had led to tension in India.
“The conversions by Muslims came to light because they did it at the point of the sword. The truth that the missionaries sugar-coated this under the garb of money and service cannot be denied and the Sarsanghachalak has put this forward frankly,” said the editorial. It added that while no one would oppose it if someone changed his religion by his own volition, it was an insult to the word “service” if people were proselytised under its garb.
The Sena lashed out at those who had attacked the “ghar vapasi” (re-conversion) campaigns conducted by Sangh Parivar affiliates to bring back Muslims and Christianconverts to the Hindu fold. “However, we have respect for Mother Teresa’s service and social work. She has worked like a Saint,” said Saamna, while lauding her work. It also claimed that the brutal murder of Australian missionary Dr Graham Staines in Odisha was the “result of anger against the religious exploitation of tribals under the garb of service”.