'Ministers dreaming of Hindu nation have no place in India'

Panaji, July 26 (IANS) Ministers dreaming about a "Hindu nation" should be taken to task by the government and have no place in India, according to Fr. Maverick Fernandes, head of the Goa Church's charitable wing.

Fernandes, who on several occasions has been the voice of the powerful Roman Catholic Church in Goa, also said that comments like those by Co-operation Minister Deepak Dhavalikar and Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza about India in the context of a "Hindu Nation", only exposed their ignorance and that they had no place in India.

"... if a minister has said such statements, he has to be taken to task by the government. Because he is going against the constitution of the country," Fernandes said.

"We have it very clearly mentioned in the preamble (of the Indian Constitution) that we are a secular nation. Anybody dreaming of such desires should be taken to task because their place is not in this nation," Fernandes said.

His comments come soon after two Goa ministers made national headlines over their remarks related to India as a Hindu nation.

D'Souza Friday had said: "India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including I, am a Christian Hindu."

D'Souza is one of the senior-most minority members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa and has been the party's poster-boy as far as the Christian community is concerned.

Christians account for nearly 26 percent of the state's population.

On Thursday, Dhavalikar while speaking during a congratulatory motion in the state legislature, had said that India could well be on a path to becoming a Hindu nation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Both comments had triggered an uproar in the state's political and social circles, with the Congress legislature wing staging walkout in the state legislative assembly Friday in protest against the remark.

Fernandes says the remarks only go on to expose the "ignorance of the person" who made them and that the ministers were straying from the oath they had sworn to protect the Constitution of the country.