Panaji: Opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) didn't mean opposing Hinduism, said Suresh alias Bhaiyyaji Joshi, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) General Secretary, here on Sunday.
"Hindu is not the BJP, and to oppose the BJP is not opposing Hindu. That's mere politics. The BJP should not be confused with the idea of Hindu," Joshi said responding to a question if Hindus were emerging as enemies of Hindus in the current environment in the country.
Addressing a two-day conference 'Vishwaguru Bharat - an RSS perspective' near Panaji, Joshi also said without Hindutva the country would be just yet another piece of land.
Contrary to the popular refrain that India "would be" a Hindu rashtra (nation) in the years to come, Joshi said he believed the country was a Hindu rashtra and the RSS was there to strengthen it everyday.
Stating that Hindutva is integral to the identity of India, Joshi, during a question-answer session that followed his address, said, "If Hindutva is removed then only a piece of land will remain. It's Hindutva that makes this a Hindu rashtra."
Commenting on the conversion of Hindus to other religious faiths in the country, the senior RSS leader said perhaps the time had come to make conversion a "punishable offence".
Stating that the RSS is open to people of all religions who want to work for Hindus and for Bharat, he said, "Anyone who wants to work for Hindus, for Bharat, is welcome. We promise him/her a respected place. But no different status or place will be offered."
Joshi also said there was a need for better awareness about the Constitution and that citizens be made aware of both their rights and as well as duties.
"India will not grow as a nation if its citizens are informed of rights under the Constitution alone. Citizens will also need to inculcate and be made aware of their responsibilities," he said.