Against the backdrop of criticism over minority issues, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asserted that his government "will not tolerate or accept" any discrimination based on caste, creed and religion and that there was no place for "imaginary apprehensions" on rights of minorities.
The Prime Minister also came out strongly against controversial remarks made by some BJP leaders, saying, "we have immediately negated" wherever an individual view has been expressed regarding a particular minority religion.
In an interview to Time magazine at his official residence in Delhi, he was asked about remarks by some BJP leaders about minorities that have raised concerns among Muslim, Christians and some others about the future of practising their faith in India.
"My government will not tolerate or accept any discrimination based on caste, creed, and religion. So, there is no place for imaginary apprehensions with regard to the rights of the minorities in India," he said.
"And wherever an individual view might have been expressed with regard to a particular minority religion, we have immediately negated that. So far as the BJP and my government are concerned... there is only one holy book of reference, which is the Constitution of India," he said.
The Modi government has been under attack over Hinduvta outfit campaigns like "ghar wapsi", "love-jihad" and recent vandalisation of churches in Delhi and some other towns.
Asked about US President Barack Obama's remarks that for India to succeed, it was critical that the nation does not splinter along religious lines, Modi said if India's history is analysed, one will not come across a single incident where this nation has attacked another country.
"Similarly, you will not find any references in our history where we have waged war based on ethnicity or religion," he said, adding "So, for us, the acceptance of all religions is in our blood, it is there is our civilization. It is ingrained in our system to work together, taking all the religions along with us".
To a question about what his faith of Hinduism meants, the Prime Minister cited from a verdict of the Supreme Court which, he said, gave a "beautiful definition". The apex court said Hinduism is not a religion, it is actually a way of life, he recalled.
"Hinduism is a religion with immense depth and vast diversity. For example, the one who does idol worship is a Hindu and one who hates idol worship can also be a Hindu," he said.
Asked about questions being raised by foreign investors about the pace of reforms in India, Modi said when he came to office in May last year, there seemed to be a "complete policy paralysis at that time.
"Two, corruption had spread throughout the system. Three, there was no leadership; it was a weak government at the Centre," he said attacking the UPA regime. "So you need to see 10 years of the last government versus 10 months of my government".
He said the international community was excited about India. "You will actually see that, internationally, the world world, is, once again, excited and enthusiastic about India and the opportunities that India represents," he said.
To another question, the Prime Minister, who has been accused by his detractors as being autocratic, said there was no need for dictatorship in India.
"So, if you were to ask me whether you need dictatorship to run India, no you do not. Whether you need a dictatorial thought to run the country, no, you do not. Whether you need a powerful person who believes in concentration power at one place, no you do not," he said, adding, "I will very easily and without any doubt choose democracy and belief in democratic values."