It is bizarre that US President Barack Obama has once again given a speech in context of India, which had been explained by his office. Before this, White House had to issue a clarification over his address at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi. At Siri Fort, Obama had said India will grow more rapidly if discrimination on religious ground does not increase. Referring to the Indian Constitution, he emphasized on maintaining the religious tolerance. In his speech, it appeared like he is advising Modi government. When questions rose about the address, Obama's officials clarified that the US President did not mean what reflected in the media. After that, during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Obama, in front of the Dalai Lama, has said Gandhi jee would have hurt due to the growing religious intolerance in India in last few years. After his remarks, the very next day White House issued a statement saying that his speech was not against any particular, nation or religion and Gandhi jee was mentioned just because he was an inspiration against religious intolerance. Before this clarification, the two senior ministers of Modi government had raised their objection over Obama's statement. Taking exception, few even asked Obama to look into the discriminations being meted out to Blacks in his own country.

The back to back statements of US President over religious intolerance have reduced the recent Indo-US bonhomie. May be both the countries are trying their bit to save the subsisting camaraderie but it cannot be ignored that Opposition parties are using Obama's statements to corner Modi government. Congress is leading Opposition party to corner the government. Congress leaders behave in the manner that Obama by edifying India is doing a great job. It appears that they are happy that someone is instructing Modi government over the cost of the country's honour. It is believed that whatever Obama had said at the Siri Fort Auditorium was inspired by the informations passed by the Congress leaders. Perhaps whatever information Sonia Gandhi and other Congress leaders provided to Obama was in synchronization with anti-BJP appeasement policy. Possibly, Congress leaders might have explained Obama that ever since Modi government came to the power, the threat to the religious harmony has increased in India. It also seems that US officials themselves did not provide the true information about India's current social and political environment to their President which is why he after returning to America advised India over the issue of religious tolerance.
It is difficult to say that whether the Modi government gets satisfied with the explanation given by the White House over Obama's religious intolerance remark but one thing is clear that Obama's statements have sent a message to the world that religious harmony in India is at risk. A proof of this is an editorial in American newspaper New York Times published very next day after Obama's edification mentioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence over the issue of religious tolerance. Incidents such as Ghar Wapasi (religious conversions) and vandalization of churches are also mentioned in the editorial. It seems that on the basis of these events, the anti-BJP parties have created an atmosphere which exudes a message to the world that Narendra Modi government is not serious about religious harmony.

In the international media, BJP is deemed as Hindu outfit and right wing organization. BJP will not mind that the party would be underlined as a Hindu outfit because it believes that Hinduism not only reflects tolerance but also 'vasudhaiva kutumbakam' (the whole world is one family). The way BJP keeps on stressing over the fact that it is very vigilant and active over the issue of religious harmony in the same way Modi government keeps on emphasizing that the Constitution is paramount for them. It says that it is committed to the slogan 'Sabka Saath Sabka vikas'.  It seems that this  message was not reflected properly in international community. One reason for this is probably BJP's participation in Ram Mandir movement in the past. The second reason is the useless and controversial statements of BJP leaders especially Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Yogi Aditya Nath which were over hyped by the Opposition parties. In the past few months, the activities of many Hindu organizations have also made impression as if Modi government has provided additional support to them. A lot of these Hindu organizations have nothing to do with the BJP or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) but still they have been linked with the saffron outfit. Due to the pro activeness of these organisations, BJP failed to project effectively that it is also in favour of all religions and coming to power does not mean that it will impose their beliefs on people of different laity. BJP also failed to counter the false propaganda of opposition parties, which were made against the government by using Hindu outfits. It also failed to establish that how over the time it connected themselves with every section of the Indian society and when they talk about Uniform Civil Code then how the  remaining parties continue to stick to their appeasement policy.  It is not hidden that when the BJP preaches about India first then other not only question it but also spew venom against the party. They mislead people and manipulate their sentiments.

In current situation, it is necessary for the Modi government to take the international community in confidence. And, while doing this they should take such steps that no one doubts their intentions. It won't be good that  international community believes that the Modi government is not cautious over religious harmony. Similarly if any other state head or any international organisation makes a comment against religious freedom in India, the problems for the Modi government will be compounded on both the  domestic and external fronts. Already anti-BJP groups are too critical and are leaving no chance to corner the party. This was testified during the Delhi polls when all the anti-BJP parties extended their support to AAP. It won't be appalling if in the next Session of Parliament, the Opposition parties will corner the BJP on the same issue as it did in the previous session.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on February 8, 2015 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)