Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, an ally of the BJP, has disagreed with a statement by the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that for Sangh, all 130 crore Indians are part of Hindu society, irrespective of their region, religion and culture.

“It is not right to say that all Indians are Hindus. There was a time when everyone was a Buddhist in our country. If Mohan Bhagwat means everyone is an Indian, then it is good. In our country, people are from Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Christian, Parsi, Jain, Lingayat faiths and different communities live here,” the Union Minister of State for Social Justice told news agency ANI.

At a public meeting of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Hyderabad, Mohan Bhagwat had said that all those who have nationalistic spirit, respect India’s culture and heritage are part of Hindu society.

“When I say Hindu Samaj, it includes those who consider India their motherland, love its ‘jal, jungle and janwar’, have the nationalistic spirit and respect its culture. Irrespective of the languages they speak, the regions they come from, their forms of worship and even if they don’t follow any religion, all are children of India,” he said.

Stating that the Sangh wants to unite all, he asked the cadres to go door-to-door to explain what the organisation stands for.

Bhagwat was addressing RSS cadres and people at Saroornagar Stadium on the outskirts of the city.