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ICC Note:

Backlash against radical Hindu group as over 50,000 members leave in protest over the way it treats minorities.

AsiaNews/ICNS (03/24/06) – More than 50,000 members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, the largest political party of India , with nationalistic leanings) in the eastern state of Assam , have left the party to protest its aggressive approach to minorities. The leader of the group also accused the national leadership of the BJP of “deliberately ignoring Christians in state elections”.

Dewan Rongpi, the Christian leader, said the party leaders acted with unjust and offensive discrimination towards Christians and that they “didn’t want to put up with their ignorance any longer”. He continued: “There were at least 10 Christians in my area who wanted to contest the elections, but they were simply turned down for no reason. This is a serious insult and so around 50,000 subscribed workers have torn up their membership card.”

At state level, the party strategy seeks cooperation with Christian leaders to win seats in those areas where the BJP is not well seen, while at national level, the leadership adopts an aggressive approach to minorities.

During an electoral meeting in Guwahati, Rajnath Singh, president of the BJP, announced a decision to call for an anti-conversion law for the state and he described the presence of Christian missionaries as a “national threat”.

The statement of Singh convinced Christian leaders to drop the idea of any possible alliance. “How can missionaries be a threat when in all these years they have done nothing but work for the development of Assam ?” asked Prafulla Garbi.