Indian NGO leader accuses Mother Teresa of serving poor people in India because she wanted to convert them

Comments made by the leader of a right-wing volunteer organisation in India have caused uproar in India.Photo: Reuters/Kamal Kishore

The comments of an Indian NGO against the late Mother Teresa has created an uproar among political and charitable organisations in India.

According to the Independent, Mohan Bhagwat was inaugurating  an orphanage and women's home in Bharatpur when he said that his non-government organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) would do serve differently from how Mother Teresa rendered her public service during her lifetime.

The RSS is a volunteer organisation that is affiliated with India's right wing.

"Mother Teresa's service might have been good," the Press Times India (PTI) quoted him as saying. "But there was a motive behind it – to convert the person being served to Christianity."

Bhagwat further suggested that conversion motives devalue service.  

Bhagwat's statements come just a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a call for greater religious tolerance in India.

In response, several organisations spoke out against Bhagwat's speech.

"In my 50 years with MOC and during that time, I have not seen a single case where people were asked to convert to Christianity," India's Missionaries of Charity spokesperson Sunita Kumar said in The Independent. 

"Even now, at Mother House on special occasions, mass prayers are organised and people of all religions participate and offer prayers according to their religion," Kumar added.

Congressman Rajasthan Pilot, who hails from Rajasthan, suggested Bhatwan's comments were an attempt to blemish Mother Teresa's image in order to destroy her legacy and foment further hatred and other "negative emotions" around religion. 

Delhi Catholic Archdiocese Father Savarimuthu Sankar challenged Bhagwat to produce names and dates of the alleged conversions so that they could answer for them. He also described Bhagwat's statement as "very sad." 

"We are downgrading her when she is not even alive." Father Sankar lamented.