New Delhi: Udit Raj, the Dalit face of the Bharatiya Janata Party, says the recent attacks on churches do not have a communal angle.
"There are elements who are out to defame the government," Udit Raj told IANS in an interview. Raj replied "I don't think so" to questions on the communal angle in the attacks.
Asked what the Modi government had done to instill confidence among Christians, especially after cases like the rape of an elderly nun, he said the government was doing "everything possible" to protect everyone.
"Be it Christians or anybody else, the government is for all and we are doing our best to protect them all," he said.
On the 'ghar wapsi' campaign carried out by some radical Hindu organisations to convert Muslims, Udit Raj said no government agency was involved in it and it had "been in the news for all the wrong reasons," repeating his statement that there were elements out to defame the government.
"My leadership is concerned and steps are being taken to ensure that it does not harm the image of the government," Raj said adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already made the government's stand clear on such issues.
"Stringent action will be taken against those who indulge in such activities," added the BJP MP from the Northwest Delhi constituency and chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST organisations.
On being asked whether the Hindutva groups had realised that conversions happen because of caste discrimination, he said "there were reasons" that people change their religion.
"There is illiteracy and other problems which lead to such situations," he said.
Asked how untouchability and other similar social evils could be dealt with, Udit Raj said such issues require a "combined approach" involving all.
The government alone can't do everything, the BJP MP said, adding that to improve the overall life of Dalits "everybody has to come forward".
"The government can't actually change the social system, everybody - be it schools, colleges and even the media -has to come forward in order to get the desired results to improve the overall life of Dalits in the country," he maintained.
"Manual scavenging, poverty and other problems of Dalits and other poor people would go away only with education and good government policies," he said referring to Home Minister Rajnath Singh having lunch with women who had earlier worked as scavengers.
Udit Raj said the NDA government was doing its bit to improve the overall condition of Dalits and the poor.
Asked about the Dalits' support for the BJP in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where assembly elections are due later this year and in 2017 respectively, he said the "Dalits are realising who is their real well-wisher".
"The Dalit support base for the BJP is increasing and we are working to improve it further," he added.
(Sushil Kumar could be contacted at email@example.com)