'Focus is Development, Hijacked Headlines A Concern': Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Hindutva Controversies

'Our mandate is for development,' Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told NDTV

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said a national law must make clear how voluntary conversion can take place.

When asked about Hindutva controversies diffusing the development message of the government the minister admitted,"Yes I am concerned about headlines being hijacked. Our focus is development"

When asked why the PM chose not to condemn rabble-rousers publicly Mr Jaitley said, "His disapproval was expressed at a BJP MPs meeting; that meeting is not a secret or closed meeting. The PM has made his position clear."

Mr Jaitley said the national law on voluntary conversions would have to be "fundamental right compatible," and that there must be the same standards for both "reconversion" and "conversion".

"Is reconversion any better or any worse than conversion? Aren't both at par?" he said, in an exclusive interview to NDTV, on an issue over which many days of Parliament work were lost in the winter session, as opposition parties attacked the ruling BJP.

The Opposition has attacked the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to rein in hardline affiliates of the party's ideological mentor, the RSS, who have been organising ceremonies to convert members of  religious minorities to Hinduism. They call it "ghar wapasi" or homecoming.    

The Opposition alleges that the minorities are being pressured to convert to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda. The conversions were recently justified by Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, who also said that India is a "Hindu nation," amplifying the raging debate.

Mr Jaitley said today, "The RSS chief has said what he has before too, but the media, opposition is just looking at controversies now."

The BJP has said it is against forced conversion of any kind and its leaders have called for an anti-conversion law.

More News