A Congressman who also stayed active in the Hindu Mahasabha, Madan Mohan Malaviya — posthumously honoured with the Bharat Ratna by the Modi government on Wednesday — shared many Hindutva concerns, including his support to “reconversions”, an issue that is breathing fire yet again.
“On one hand, Muslims and Christians are committed to bringing others into their religion, on the other, you aren’t bringing back even those who want to return,” he said in his speech at the 1923 session of the Mahasabha at Varanasi.
“Lakhs became Christians… Many untouchables became Christians. There is so much oppression. Hindu numbers are depleting. If Hindus cease to exist, who will protect the sacred thread (janeu), religion, Vedas, Puranas, cows and Brahmins?”
He also chastised Hindus who considered those who had been converted by fraud as “impure” and did not accept them again. But, Malaviya defended the Congress in his speech, criticised British rule and also made a call for Hindu-Muslim unity — as equals.
“The day Muslims – not all Muslims, as thousands are very decent people but Muslims with bad intentions – realise that Hindus will answer one attack from them with two, friendship will be strong.”
However, he ended with a plea for unity: “Never forget this is Bharat Varsh (India). People of different faiths live here. ”
In his 1924 presidential speech at Lahore, he defended “reconversions” to Hinduism again: “Muslim brothers shouldn’t mind this. They too convert others.” He added that conversions should be done peacefully and with patience.
Defending the Mahasabha, Malaviya said: “If Hindus have started organising themselves they should accept that Hindus have the same rights as Muslims.”