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India: Hindu nationalist confidence grows
– a call to pray for India

By Elizabeth Kendal
World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC)

7/9/08 AUSTRALIA (ANS) — In February 1998 India’s Hindu nationalist Barantya Janata Party (BJP) rose to power on a platform of hard-line Hindu nationalism. The BJP’s election slogan was ‘One People, One Nation, One Culture’ (i.e. Hindu culture). Systematic, violent persecution of Christians escalated nationwide under BJP rule. Anti-conversion laws were enacted; ‘re-conversion’ ceremonies (to Hinduism) were promoted; Indian history was ‘saffronised’ (rewritten); and in 2002, up to 2000 Muslims were massacred in Gujarat in a BJP-incited pogrom.

The BJP governed also through India’s economic boom years, so when they lost power in the April-May 2004 elections, it was a huge shock to the world’s political analysts who had not counted on the disaffection of the impoverished, persecuted, left-behind masses. There was a lot of prayer through the election period in which voting was conducted in four stages. With the BJP leading after the second stage, requests for urgent prayer rang out. By the time the voting was over, the BJP had lost power. Christians praised God for what they saw as a divine mercy in answer to the prayers of many.

A year of squabbling, blame shifting and policy revision followed in the BJP. Then the ‘sangh parivar’ — the umbrella body dedicated to the advancement of Hindutva (Hindu supremacy) — emerged, committed to restoring the BJP to power. By the beginning of 2006 the BJP was back, both with a vengeance and a strategy. For decades Hindu nationalists have been working at converting India’s animist tribal masses to Hinduism.. They tell tribal Indian s that their ancestors were actually Hindus and that their animist religion is in fact a corrupted form of Hinduism. The sangh parivar adopted this strategy and added a motivating element: fear! They also tell the tribals that India’s security and sovereignty are under threat from foreign forces and that Christian missionaries are agents of the CIA working to divide India with communal strife ahead of invasion and occupation. They say the only way to save India is for the tribals to join the Hindu ‘mainstream’, vote BJP and join a Hindu militia. The religious conversion of the tribals — who traditionally vote for the Congress Party — is far less important to the Hindu nationalists than their political conversion.

In this way Hindu nationalism has been revived amongst the masses and persecution of Christians has escalated all across the nation. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of PM Dr Manmohan Singh has so far failed to address either the issue of intolerant Hindutva or its immediate consequence : violent religious persecution. This is extremely short-sighted because the long term consequence of this failure could well be the BJP’s return to power in the next elections due May 2009. The BJP is currently demanding a confidence vote in the parliament because the ruling UPA may have lost its majority when leftists withdrew from the UPA over the government’s nuclear deal with the US. The UPA losing that vote would pave the way for an early election. After defeating Congress in the Kanartaka state polls in May, the BJP is confident they and Hindutva have returned.

” PM Manmohan Singh and the United Progressive Alliance government: that God will give them great wisdom and strength to effectively counter the rise of intolerant Hindutva.
” the Holy Spirit of God to pierce the consciences of Indians and heighten their discernment so they will reject violence, intolerance and lies.
” God to protect his people, comfort the persecut ed, empower witness and sanctify the Indian Church which is both very ancient (in India for 2000 years) and yet very young.