The Ghar Wapsi programme, in which Christians and Muslims are “encouraged“ to “return“ to Hinduism, has been going on for decades, but mostly under the radar. However, Singh’s brazen mass conversion programmes in Agra and his provocative public statements put a spotlight on it, triggering a controversy that was eventually used by Opposition par ties to disrupt Parliament.
Singh has also been removed from the helm of the Sangh-affiliated Dharma Jagran that he has been leading since 1996.However, he continues to be a pracharak with the Agra unit of the RSS.
Although Singh has been conducting Ghar Wapsi campaigns every December for many years now, he had intensified it this year and had planned for the conversion of 20,000 Muslims to Hinduism in UP alone this year. Many of his planned programmes, including one scheduled on Christmas day, could not be held as planned because of the controversy it triggered and had to be cancelled.
Originally from Etah in Uttar Pradesh, Singh was asked to head the re-conversions programme of the Sangh in 1996. He was the Sangh’s pracharak of Mainpuri and Shahjahanpur before that. To implement the Ghar Wapsi programme, Singh had formed teams of 20-25 workers and had deployed one wholetime Sangh member in every block to work with Muslims and people of the backward Valmiki community. RSS functionaries in UP said Singh was the first to initiate Ghar Wapsi of Christians to Hindusim in the state. A Rajput himself, he would also go to houses of Muslims with Rajput names and urge them to come back to the “biradri“.
Singh high-octane campaign of late, emboldened by the presence of a BJP-led government at the centre, became a liability for the Modi-led administration that had fought elections on the plank of better governance and development, but found itself increasingly hobbled by controversies triggered by contentious Hindutva issues.
The past few weeks had seen confabulations between the BJP and RSS leaders during which several ministers are learnt to have impressed upon the Sangh leadership that the noise around contentious issues was affecting the government’s image and functioning.