Kolkata/New Delhi: RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday came under fierce attack from Christian institutions and non-BJP parties for his controversial remarks on Mother Teresa that also echoed in Parliament where the Opposition sought to target the Government.
The remarks made by Bhagwat in Rajasthan yesterday that conversion to Christianity was the main objective behind Mother Teresa's service to the poor were condemned as "rubbish" and "uncharitable" and an attempt to malign her.
The Government said it had nothing to do with Bhagwat's remarks.
The Missionaries of Charity trashed Bhagwat's claim, saying he was "misinformed".
"He is misinformed. It should be absolutely clear that conversion was not going on when Mother was there, nor it is going on now. The whole motive is to serve the poor selflessly, bring joy and dignity into their lives," Sunita Kumar, spokesperson of the organisation founded by Teresa in 1950, told PTI in Kolkata.
A close confidant of the Mother for many years, she said, "I never saw anything like that (conversion) happening. It is all rubbish".
Teresa, who died in 1997 in Kolkata, had won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize and was beatified as the "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta" in 2003.
Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto)'s Sister S M Cyril, who knew Teresa closely, said it was silly and stupid to think like that.
"It is completely wrong that they have been propagating conversion. She never hoped that those who are serving will convert to Christianity. She had selfless love for people in her heart and that is why she served them," said the Padma Shri awardee who has served as the principal of Loreto Day School, Sealdah.
The Catholic Church voiced its strong resentment over Bhagwat's remarks, dubbing it unfortunate.
"It is quite unfortunate that the services of such a world renowned Nobel Prize laureate and Bharat Ratna awardee like Mother Teresa being dragged into unwarranted controversies," President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) Cardinal Mar Baselios Cleemis said.
Any attempt to malign the Mother was "inhuman", he told a press meet in Thiruvananthapuram.
"Cutting across religious and caste barriers, people considered Mother Teresa as a living saint. She never had any other agenda than serving the poor and downtrodden," he said.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar slammed Bhagwat's comments as reflective of a "prejudiced mindset" and sought action against people making such assertions.
"This reflects perverted mind of people making such statements," the JD(U) leader told reporters in Patna.
"Condemn Mohan Bhagwat's uncharitable remarks against Mother Teresa. Pl respect her dedicated service to the poor and under privilege (sic)," Congress leader Digvijay Singh said on Twitter.
When Congress members led by Jyotiraditya Scindia sought to raise Bhagwat's remarks during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu stood up to say that the Government has nothing to do with such statements.
"Every individual organisation has the right to speak outside," he said, as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan disallowed Scindia when he continued to raise the issue.