Mumbai: The Shiv Sena has defended Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat over his comments that conversion to Christianity was the main objective behind Mother Teresa's service to the poor.
The Shiv Sena, in an editorial published in its mouthpiece Saamna on Wednesday, has endorsed Bhagwat's views saying that missionaries open centres in different countries to promote Christianity. The editorial praised Bhagwat for telling the "bitter truth".
Muslims forced religious conversions with sword... Christians did it with money and in the guise of service," it alleged.
"Bhagwat has done national service by speaking the truth on what missionaries do," the Sena said.
"We have respect for the work mother Teresa did. Several social figures have done such service. However they did not carry out religious conversions," it said.
"What the RSS chief has said will give boost to the 'ghar wapasi' campaign. We congratulate him," the Sena said referring to VHP's programme to "reconvert" people into Hinduism.
The editorial further states that Bhagwat spoke the truth and praised late Baba Amte, saying that the social worker used to do a similar kind of job, but not with any ulterior motive.
Sena's statement comes after BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi on Tuesday claimed that Mother Teresa had herself in an interview said that her job was to bring people to the fold of Christianity.
She claimed that in a book, Mother Teresa had herself said that she worked to bring people to the fold of Christianity.
"And kindly read Navin Chawla's book, who was an old Congress loyalist, on Mother Teresa, where Mother Teresa herself during an interview says that 'a lot of people confuse me as social worker, I am not a social worker. I am in the service of Jesus and my job is to spread the word of Christianity and bring people to its fold'," Lekhi added.
Speaking at a function organised by NGO 'Apna Ghar' near Bharatpur in Rajasthan, the RSS chief said, "Mother Teresa's service would have been good. But it used to have one objective, to convert the person, who was being served, into a Christian."
"The question is not about conversion but if this (conversion) is done in the name of service, then that service gets devalued," he said.
"But here (at the NGO), the objective is purely service of poor and helpless people," added Bhagwat.
Bhagwat's comments on Mother Teresa have evoked a huge uproar across the political circle.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday strongly objected to Bhagwat's objectionable comments on Mother Teresa.
Kejriwal, the newly elected Delhi chief minister, who has worked with Mother Teresa in past, termed her as a 'noble soul' and urged the RSS top brass to spare her of such remarks.
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien took the opportunity to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The TMC leader tweeted:
Now what will the pinstripe suit say to the khaki shorts about his views on Mother Teresa #condemn
— Derek O'Brien (@quizderek) February 23, 2015
Congress leader Rajiv Shukla demanded BJP's apology and said that Mother Teresa shouldn't be insulted. Shukla further said that his party will raise the issue in the Parliament.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot, while criticising the statement by Bhagwat, said: "By giving these kind of statements, they (the RSS) are trying to create a religious divide. Mother Teresa comes from which religion does not matter, what matters most is the service she provided to the poor."
RSS said on its twitter handle that the media reported "wrongly" and Bhagwat had only replied to former BSF DG's comments.
Media reporting wrongly. At Bharatpur Ex DG BSF said that Mother Teresa did Seva with motive of conversion.
— RSS (@RSSorg) February 23, 2015
In reply, Bhagavat said, "let Mother Teresa know her motive for Seva, we do Seva without expecting any returns" Dr M Vaidya
— RSS (@RSSorg) February 23, 2015