Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hit back at the recent criticism by a Gandhinagar archbishop, saying those issuing Fatwas against 'nationalists' should see the effort we undertook to get Father Tom back.
"I was shocked to see a religious person releasing a 'fatwa' (diktat) saying uproot the nationalist forces. It is 'Rashtrabhakti' (nationalism) that guides us to help every Indian in any part of the world," Modi said.
He was referring to the letter by Thomas Macwan, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar, in which he had appealed to Christians to pray to save the country from "nationalist forces".
Responding to the archbishop's warning against the "nationalist forces", the PM underlined the importance of the spirit of nationalism in ensuring the release of the two Christian spiritual leaders.
"It is our 'nationalism' that made us get Father Tom and Father Prem back. When Judith D'Souza was kidnapped, we once again did whatever we could to bring this daughter of India back," he said.
He also listed several examples wherein the central government had brought back Christian missionaries as well as nurses stranded in conflict zones across the world.
"Along with Indians, we have rescued citizens of almost 40 countries from Yemen, as they were stranded there due to war. We did not see their religion or language they speak. It was our nationalism and humanitarian values which guided us," the Prime Minister said.
Modi said he was raising the issue of nationalism because some people have challenged it.
The prime minister also attacked those opposing the bullet train project and said such people should travel by bullock carts.
"Those opposing the bullet train project should travel on bullock carts. We won't mind," he said during an election rally in Bharuch.
"Imagine how much employment will it generate for the region, for Bharuch. I ask you where will the cement for the bullet train (infrastructure) come from, iron come from, labourers come from? Won't that be from India? And who will be buying that? Japan. Isn't it a big deal?" he asked.
He said the UPA government under Manmohan Singh also wanted the project but could not get it. "The NDA government got it at a negligible price. So the Congress didn't like that. My only grievance against the Congress is that if they could not achieve anything, why does it pain them when someone else does it."
Later PM Narendra Modi arrived in Gujarat's Surat. He will address public gatherings in the city on Monday.