Asserting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was against conversions and re-conversions, party chief Amit Shah has sought the support of "secular parties" to bring an anti-conversion bill.
"We are against forceful conversions and re-conversions. Neither our party nor the NDA government is involved in the 'ghar wapsi' (homecoming) programme. We seek support of the so-called secular parties for a strong legislation against conversions," Shah told reporters in Bangalore, formerly known as Bengaluru.
Regretting that no secular party had come forward to introduce the anti-conversion bill, he said the ruling BJP was in favour of such a law to check conversions.
"There is a need for a strong anti-conversion law to prevent conversions by anyone, be they Christians, Muslims or Hindus," Shah said.
Noting that the BJP had nothing to do with the 'ghar-wapsi' programme of some Hindu right-wing groups, Shah said his party did not believe in such conversions.
The Dharma Jagran Samiti, a group affiliated to the BJP, was allegedly behind the forceful conversions of about 250 Muslim families to Hinduism in Uttar Pradesh in November, kicking up a political storm.
Religious conversions have long been a lightning rod for identity politics in India, whose history is scarred with episodes of blood-letting of citizens divided on faith and ethnicity.
Such religion-driven politics took a backseat in the last decade of economic boom, but signs of a more assertive Hindu right have surfaced since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, adding to a climate of fear. Communal tension reached its peak after the alleged conversion of dozens of Muslims in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, in December.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliate groups announced plans for more such 'ghar-wapsi (homecoming)', with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat daring political rivals to bring in a law to ban religious conversions if they wanted to stop such events.
The issue triggered a ruckus in the Winter Session. The ruling BJP, however, distanced itself from the controversy and said it was against forced conversions.