New Delhi: Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has implied that converting people to Christianity was the objective of Mother Teresa’s service to the poor. His comment at a village in Rajasthan has provoked outrage.
"I worked wid Mother Teresa for a few months at Nirmal Hriday ashram in Kolkata. She was a noble soul. Pl spare her," said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a tweet this morning
On Monday, Mr Bhagwat was attending a function organized by an NGO at a village near Bharatpur when he said, "Here, the service isn’t like Mother Teresa’s. Her service would have been good but it used to have one objective, to see that the person who was being helped felt obliged to become a Christian."
He added, "The question is not about conversion but if this (conversion) is done in the name of service, then that service gets devalued. In our country, service is neutral," he added.
The RSS, the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP, denied the comment in a tweet.
Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, which runs hospitals, shelters and orphanages in several countries. The Nobel Peace laureate was beatified in 2003.
"We will do what Mother Teresa taught us: pray for him," said Sunita Kumar, spokesperson, Missionaries of Charity.
"Mother Teresa’s only motive was to serve the poor. Through all my years with her, I have not experienced or seen any kind of conversion. I am a Sikh," said Ms Kumar, who started working with Mother Teresa in 1965.
The RSS chief’s comments come days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for religious freedom and said his government "will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly."
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted, "Condemn Mohan Bhagwat’s uncharitable remarks against Mother Teresa. Pl respect her dedicated service to the poor and under privilege (sic)."
Derek O’ Brien of the Trinamool Congress said, "I condemn, condemn, condemn (it)."