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'Christianity never forces anyone to give up patriotism': BJP leader Chuba

IANS | December 30, 2022 11:04 AM

NEW DELHI: As elections are approaching in predominantly Christian states of Nagaland and Meghalaya, a senior BJP leader and party's National Vice-President, M. Chuba Ao says some kinds of complexities have been created by "irrational linking of Christian religion" with negative aspects of colonial history.

"Christianity never forced Indians or Indian Christians to give up their love for the country... I can also easily say that Christians are often 'shy' of their contributions and rather peculiarly tend to behave defensively, " he wrote in an article published in local newspapers.

"We Christians and our forefathers cherished Indian freedom as much it was done by a Hindu or a Muslim brother in 1947. Ordinary Christian citizens had been actively involved in the Indian Independence movement. The All India Conference of Indian Christians advocated for 'Swaraj' and opposed the partition of India, " Chuba said, who is also party's in-charge for poll-bound Meghalaya.

Chuba, a practicing Christian from Nagaland, also writes: "Why we should not be more assertive! Why should we not tell anyone and everyone that India is very much our own country. We belong to it as do people from other communities and 'Bharatiya' or Indian ethos are also as much our own."

In the wake of debate that BJP as a pro-Hindu party is facing challenges making deeper penetration in Meghalaya, Chuba points out: "Whether one is a Naga Christian, a Mizo Christian, a Khasi Christian or a Catholic or a Baptist, we are all equal citizens of India and I can say confidently that most Christians are patriots and nationalists. Christians' contribution in nation building is something we should be proud of. And I am confident that a number of non-Christians and perhaps an overwhelming number of them appreciate our contribution, patriotism and overall social service."

The BJP, which has two MLAs in the present House and supports Conrad Sangma-led Ministry, is eyeing deeper penetration in the state. Observers feel that the saffron party is gaining voters' favour as people are overwhelmed by the Prime Minister's inclusive politics and the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas'.

"Underlining these points has become imperative for some of us because as Christian politicians, our association with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is frequently manipulated and twisted by trying to show the party in the bad light; as being opposed to Christianity and its followers, " argues Chuba.

He also says, founded by illustrious leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani, his party has always believed in "Gandhian socialism and true secularism".

He also notes: "BJP's concept of secularism is akin to the Father of the Nation where he thought all religions were true and the state should be secular to protect all subjects."

Stating that L.K. Advani himself was a product of a Catholic Institute, Saint Patrick's High School of Karachi, in undivided 'Akhand India', Chuba says so is Union Minister and his "young friend" Piyush Goyal -- who did schooling from Don Bosco High School, Matunga in Mumbai.

"Narendra Modi has been crystal clear and very articulate on the matter by urging people to appreciate the importance of self-discipline and the spirit of 'Vasudeva Kutumbakam'. His slogan 'Sabka Saath and Sabka Vikas' is essentially based on the doctrine that all development and peace and progress in a multi-religious and multilingual India is based on the doctrine of equality of the human race. And so why should Christians presume that the BJP will be against them?, " says Chuba.

Two Christian-dominated states of Meghalaya and Nagaland and also in another BJP-ruled Tripura -- which also accounts for a substantial number of tribal and Christian voters -- will go to polls in early 2023.

Another north eastern state of Mizoram with majority Christians, too, will go to polls in November 2023 and so will Chhattisgarh, which also has a sizeable Christian population.

The issues before Meghalaya voters are not religious but revolve around governmental corruption blocking development and people's needs. The BJP's mega promise is to provide a corruption-free government focused on people's socio-economic development.

BJP leader L. Michael Kharsyntiew, who is seeking a BJP ticket from Shillong North, says the saffron party has come a long way in Meghalaya and will do well in February 2023 polls as people have realised its potential in bringing developmental revolution.

Michael also said that, "Meghalaya voters should understand what is the point of voting for NPP or any other regional party when a party that is set up in Meghalaya is trying to fight elections in Tripura, Manipur and Nagaland... or Karnataka. Where are they getting the money?"

He explained that the Budget of Meghalaya is siphoned off elsewhere only for political ambitions of a party.

"Of course corruption is the main issue, " he says.

(Nirendra Dev is a New Delhi-based journalist. He is also author of books, 'The Talking Guns: North East India' and 'Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth'. Views are personal)

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