NEW DELHI, India Former Indian Prime Minister Charan Singh, condemning conversion of poor Hindus to Christianity, called Sunday for expulsion of all foreign Christian missionaries and urged Pope John Paul II to cancel his trip to India next February.

“The Pope’s visit will help speed conversion of poor Hindus to Christianity. It will provide a great boost to the proselytizing activities of foreign missionaries based in India, ” Charan Singh told The Associated Press in an interview. The 83yearold statesman criticized Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government for inviting the Pope on the ground he was head of the Vatican state. He described Gandhi, 41, as a “foolish young man who is a stranger to India.

“His roots are in Italy, not in India,” said Charan Singh, president of the centrist, peasant based Lok Kal (Masses Party). “The ‘weak policies’ of Gandhi, who has an Italian wife, have encouraged missionaries to convert more Hindu ‘untouchables’ and tribes people to Christianity, said Charan Singh, sitting cross-legged on the floor of his study room adorned with a large portrait of the apostle of nonviolence, Mahatma Gandhi.

“These missionaries are offering all kinds of inducements to the poor to make them change their religion. This is nothing but exploitation,” he said. “They also are engaging in cultural indoctrination.”

Article extracted from this publication >>  October 25, 1985