Catholic Church fears BJP coming to power

Published 28 April 2009  |  
The Catholic Bishops Conference of India expressed apprehensions over the electoral victory of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which it fears might continue its ghastly attitude over minorities.

Father Babu Joseph, a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, said the church feared the results of the ongoing nation elections which is set to conclude on May 13.

The BJP is often accused for fanning communal feelings and pursuing the "Hindutva" agenda that instigates people to attack the minorities. The violence on Christians in Kandhamal, last year, is part of such a campaign.

"They want to demolish secularism - they're very clear there has to be a Hindu nation and only Hinduism is acceptable," says Father Joseph. "Last time the BJP was in power, they began the process of amending the constitution of India to try and take away the rights of the minorities."

Although the Constitution enshrines the rights of minority groups, with the BJP coming to power, Fr Joseph fears "tomorrow all our institutions, including our schools, could be taken over."

Referring to the August 2008 violence on Christians, Fr Joseph said many who returned to their villages for the reconstruction of their homes were forcefully converted to Hinduism.

"It's like what is happening in Pakistan - trying to apply sharia law. This is the Hindu version of it," he said, adding, "This is the worst we have seen so far but we wonder what is still to come depending on what kind of party comes into the centre."

Apart from Orissa, there have also been vehement attacks on Christians in other states ruled by the BJP, including Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Some of them have anti-conversion laws misused against Christians, charging them with "forceful conversions".

India now has seven states with legislation banning unregistered or unethical religious conversions.

The BJP mostly uses anti-conversion law as a tool to institutionalize the ideology of Hindu nationalism which envisions a "Hindu nation".

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