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Issues like religious conversion overshadowing pro-development image of Narendra Modi and his government
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Lok Sabha election campaigning in various parts of the country majorly focused on two things. One, the corruption and the mismanagement by the previous government led by the Congress. Second, his focus was on how he would develop the country if brought into power and will bring 'Ache Din' for the people.
Elections got over and BJP with a full majority came into power at the Centre. Soon after taking charge at PMO, Narendra Modi swung into action. His initiatives like Make in India, Clean India Campaign, Jan Dhan Yojana indicated he was on right track of development.

When on one side Modi was busy with his development agenda, at the same time right wing Hindu organisations like RSS, VHP and their affiliates, who are somewhere and somehow related to the BJP, were busy in pushing some contentious issues like religious conversion.

In UP's Agra an RSS affiliated group re-converted some 57 Muslim families in the name of 'Ghar Vapasi'. On the opposition's demand the issue was in fact debated in the Lok Sabha also.

On government's behalf Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu had made a statement in the parliament that for BJP-led NDA government every religion is equal and rolled out the idea of an anti-conversion law throughout the country to ban conversions.

Despite the issue echoing in the parliament, in media and raising many questions over the NDA government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has so far refrained from making comment on the issue of religious conversion in public domain.

Are the issues like religious conversion triggered by right-wing Hindu outfits and the silence of PM Narendra Modi over it, overshadowing his pro-development image?

Pradeep K Dutta, Professor of Political Science at Delhi University says, "Of course. Well it means, if you are going into the issue of religious conversion that must be seen in relationship to Love Jihad and the whole Hindutva agenda, which is to make this into a single Hindu country, then we are actually, what we are doing is encouraging the Talibanisation of the country. And that is certainly contrary to any kind of basic values of modern life."

Purushottam Aggarwal, a Political Analyst says, "Yes it is, because during the Lok Sabha election campaigning PM Modi referred to issues like Bangladeshis and all that, but overall he tried to distance himself from the aggressive brand of Hindutva and focused on development. In fact in his address from Red Fort he even asked for 10 years moratorium on various contentious issues. So he tried to consciously cultivated an image of a PM dedicated to development. And now his silence, and more than silence in fact his act for example tacit or in fact open approval or appreciation of those who are involved in the riots in western UP is overshadowing his cultivated image of pro-development PM."

Gurram Srinivas, an Associate Professor in Sociology Department at JNU said, "Yes, that is a very simple and logical thing. Yes, you could say that. Development agenda of any government has to take place in a free and fair environment where all communities feel safe and secure. And if we expect any of these backward communities, irrespective of their religious affiliation, to participate in developmental process they need to feel safe with respect to their human rights, their identity, their dignity. Only in such a context the poor people can take part in developmental process. And in the context of the recent discussions, debates on India's cultural heritage and the future of India, which community has what kind of role and all that, see this kind of discussion actually disturbs the peace and certain communities feel threatened. This has been a stance taken by BJP and its affiliated organizations for a long time. So there is nothing new in their stance though they are saying that we will take everyone along, we are forward enough. But if they raise these issues again, time to time, then it will be detrimental to the very idea of development."

There are some BJP leaders like Lok Sabha MP Yogi Adityanath, who openly supports the act of religious conversions by RSS and its affiliates. 

Interestingly BJP accepts that the issue of religious conversion is somewhere hurting the pro-development image of PM Narendra Modi and his government.

Replying to a question BJP's national spokesperson MJ Akbar says, "Yes, they are (hurting the pro-development image of the government). And the government is very focused, that it is on development, development and development. In fact unfortunately some remarks are made which deflects this concentrated attention on our economy and development."

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