Opposition parties urge India's PM Modi to 'walk the talk' on religious tolerance

Opposition parties and church leaders urge India PM Narendra Modi to 'walk the talk' on promise of religious tolerance.Reuters

Opposition parties are urging India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to 'walk the talk' after his statement on religious tolerance in India.

Narendra Modi spoke on Tuesday during a canonisation ceremony at Vigyan Bhawan for India's new Catholic saints on the issue of religious tolerance. In his statement, which was telecast across the nation, the Prime Minister vowed to uphold religious freedom in India.

"My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence," Modi assured the nation and the gathered Indian Catholics.

Now, various personalities and opposition personalities are asking the Prime Minister to "walk the talk."

Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi told the World Watch Monitor that his community was happy that Modi has spoken out "strongly and emphatically" against religious persecution in his country. He hoped that, with this statement, the Prime Minister will fulflill his "solemn promise" but, should he fail to do so, India's Catholics can " always remind him" of his pledges.

"(Modi's statement) will convey that the idea of India continues to offer inspiration for peaceful coexistence of communities and ethnicities," Peoples Democratic Party chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said on the Economic Times on Wednesday.

The PDP leader said that he's optimistic that Modi's statement will finally silence "loose cannons" behind the persecution against minorities, but he also stated that it needs to be followed up with solid action.

The calls for action comes in the wake of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's claim in the Times of India (TOI) that Modi was in fact addressing Christians and suggesting they "respect the Hindu religion".

 "The PM's message was aimed at those who attack other religions. It's the Christian missionaries which publish literature insulting Hindu deities, run hate campaigns and insult Hinduism in general," VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain told TOI.

The VHP is known in India for its "ghar vapasi" campaigns that aimed to "reconvert" people from the minorities to Hinduism. It was reported on IBN Live that the VHP, in cooperation with local Hindu units, converted on Sunday 12 families in the Cheramar community in Kerala to Hinduism from Christianity.