NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – The head of India’s most powerful Hindu group vowed to press ahead with a campaign to convert Muslims and Christians to Hinduism, stoking a sensitive debate that has stalled parliament and threatened the prime minister’s economic reform agenda.
Mohan Bhagwat of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, which is also the ideological wing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, said India was a “Hindu nation” where many Hindus had been forcibly converted to other religions.
“We will bring back those who have lost their way. They did not go on their own,” Bhagwat said in a speech late on Saturday. “They were lured into leaving.”
Bhagwat’s comments came after Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party said it did not support forced religious conversions and called for an anti-conversion law.
India’s 1.2 billion people are predominantly Hindus but there are also about 160 million Muslims and a small proportion of Christians.