BJP MP Tejasvi Surya today said he was "unconditionally withdrawing" his comments about Hindu revival and "bringing back to the Hindu fold" all those who converted "over the course of India's history".
A video clip of his comments had gone viral at a time there is outrage over divisive speeches made from public platforms.
"At a program held in Udupi Sri Krishna Mutt two days ago, I spoke on the subject of 'Hindu Revival in Bharat'. Certain statements from my speech has regrettably created an avoidable controversy. I therefore unconditionally withdraw the statements," Tejasvi Surya tweeted this morning, in a retreat that is rare from the firebrand leader.
At a program held in Udupi Sri Krishna Mutt two days ago, I spoke on the subject of 'Hindu Revival in Bharat'.— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) December 27, 2021
Certain statements from my speech has regrettably created an avoidable controversy. I therefore unconditionally withdraw the statements.
On Saturday, the Karnataka BJP leader had said that those who left their "mother religion" must be brought back on priority and it was the "only possible solution" to an "anomaly".
"The Hindu has been taken out from his mother religion. There is only one possible solution...there is only one solution to address this anomaly," Tejasvi Surya had said at the Sri Krishna Mutt.
"Those people who have left their mother religion and have for various socio-political, economic reasons over the course of India's history, those who have gone out of the Hindu fold, must be brought back in whole, brought back into the Hindu faith, brought back to the mother faith," asserted the 31-year-old MP from Bangalore South.
Mr Surya made the comment two days after the Karnataka Right To Freedom of Religion Bill, commonly referred to as the anti-conversion Bill, was passed in the state assembly in controversial circumstances, with the Congress accusing the government of targeting minorities with the threat of tough penalties under the new law.
Last week, hate speeches including open calls for genocide made at a "Dharma Sansad" or religious conclave in Haridwar in Uttarakhand sparked anger and disgust. The BJP's Ashwini Upadhyay also participated in the event and distributed copies of what he called the "Bhagwa (saffron) Constitution".
In the spiralling anger over videos of the conclave, the Uttarakhand police filed a case but named only one person along with "others". Some of the organisers of the conclave even flaunted their links with the BJP, sharing photos with members of the ruling party.
Tejasvi Surya, who is also the national president of the BJP Yuva Morcha or youth wing, is notorious for his divisive politics and provocative statements.
In the same speech on Saturday, he was quoted as saying that annual targets must be given to mutts and temples to reconvert all those who left the Hindu faith.