Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday that India does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion or sect, PTI reported. Singh was speaking on the sidelines of an event of the Border Security Force in New Delhi.

Singh’s comments came in the wake of the archbishop of Delhi’s statement that a prayer campaign be launched ahead of the 2019 General Elections as a “turbulent political atmosphere” was prevailing in the country.

“It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the general elections,” Archbishop Anil Couto said in a letter to the Capital’s parish priests earlier this month. “As we look forward towards 2019, when we will have a new government, let us begin a prayer campaign for our country.”

“I have not seen the statement of the archbishop verbatim but all I can say is that India is a country where there is no discrimination against anyone on the basis of caste, sect or religion. Such a thing cannot be allowed,” Singh said in response.

He said the government will protect the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India. “Sometimes questions are asked to us,” the Union minister said. “We will not compromise on the unity, integrity and sovereignty of this country at any cost and this is our top priority. We are also committed to strengthen the bonds of amity, affinity and harmony in our society.”

Archbishop’s statements a direct attack by the Church: VHP

Hindutva organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad, however, labelled the archbishop’s statements “a direct attack by the [Roman Catholic] Church on India’s secularism”. VHP International Working President Alok Kumar also claimed that Couto’s statements were a “direct intervention by the Vatican” and “an attempt to divide India on the basis of religion”.

“This is a direct attack by the church on India’s secularism and democracy,” Kumar said. “This is a direct intervention by the Vatican as these bishops are appointed by the Pope. Their accountability is not to India, but to the Pope.”

“What would happen to the secular fabric and the unity of the country if Muslim, Hindu and leaders representing other religions start writing such letters?” he asked.