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Nagaland Assembly election: Baptist church body appeals political parties not to support BJP

The Nagaland Baptist Churches Council in an open letter, stated that India had experienced the worst persecution of minority communities in 2015-2017 under the RSS-backed BJP government.

Written by Kallol Dey | Dimapur | Updated: February 11, 2018 11:34 pm
Nagaland Assembly election: Baptist churches body appeals political parties not to support BJP PM Narendra Modi (left) and BJP chief Amit Shah.

The ‘RSS brand’ of politics of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come to haunt the party in the Christian majority states of Nagaland and Meghalaya this election February. In Nagaland, elections are fought more on tribal, village and individual lines than by manifestos or ideologies of political parties. Given that all candidates are usually Christians, religion too does not count in electoral politics. But this time around, religion has cast shadow on the elections with the Baptist church launching a rather unprecedented direct attack on BJP by calling on ‘believers’ not to surrender Christian principles and faith for the sake of money and development into the hands of those who seek to “pierce the heart of Jesus Christ.”

The Nagaland Baptist Churches Council (NBCC), apex body of Baptist churches in the state, in an open letter to presidents of all political parties in Nagaland, stated that India had experienced the worst persecution of minority communities in 2015-2017 under the RSS-backed BJP government. “We cannot deny that the Hindutva movement in the country has become unprecedentedly strong and invasive in the last few years with BJP, the political wing of RSS, in power,” the NBCC general secretary observed in the letter adding that “God must be weeping when Naga politicians are running after those who seek to destroy Christianity in India and in our land.”

When asked about the unprecedented stand taken by the church, Rev. Zelhou Keyho, the NBCC general secretary, talking to indianexpress.com said, “This time it has really become a threat (RSS-backed BJP). That is why we felt we had to make a strong statement not only on behalf of the church here but also on behalf of Christians in the country in general.”

The church leader is wary about the political ambitions of the BJP in the three Christian dominated states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram. “It is not just political interest,” he claimed but eluded substantiating on what agenda the BJP-RSS combine has in North East. He pointed out the conferences being hosted in Assam by the RSS and said the “tremors are being felt in Meghalaya and Nagaland.”

BJP’s strategic alliances

Despite a growing presence, BJP has been on the backfoot in both Nagaland and Meghalaya for issues like ‘beef ban’ and atrocities against minorities, particularly Christians. That has apparently driven the BJP to go into the polls with strategic alliances with regional parties. In Nagaland, the BJP sealed alliance with the Nationalist Democratic People’s Party (NDPP). Asked about the BJP-NDPP alliance, Rev. Keyho said, “At this moment, I will not be able to comment on NDPP but getting a regional party has emboldened the BJP.” He added that “while politicians will say BJP is only a political party and we are not part of RSS, it is just political talk.”

The Baptist church leader further said that in a big country like India whose beauty lies in its diversity of cultures, traditions and practices, it is wrong to say that that the country has only one religion. “Considering Christianity a foreign religion (in India) is strange. Hinduism is practiced in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand as well. So if those people say that Hinduism is a foreign religion, get out of the country, we will surely feel bad.” Rev. Keyho categorically added, “The beauty of the secular nature of the country has to be preserved (sic).”

The Nagaland BJP is yet to reply to the NBCC general secretary’s open letter. When indianexpress.com contacted M Chuba, Nagaland BJP campaign committee incharge, he said the NBCC statement is “kind of a threat for us.”

“What the church said about us (BJP) is totally opposite to what we stand for. We stand for development. There are no proper roads, electricity and demand for students’ scholarship is responded with water cannons; so many anti-incumbency factors. Our objective is to focus on development and preserve our own identity,” Chuba asserted. On equating BJP with RSS, he said that the two are different organisations. “RSS is kind of a national volunteers organisation, BJP is a political party. The NBCC general secretary is confused.”

Meanwhile, the Congress has gone on an all out attack on the RSS. In a recent press conference in Dimapur, Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi, who is also Congress observer for Nagaland elections, said the RSS-backed BJP is manipulating democracy and constitutional values. “This BJP doesn’t believe in people power. It is of the RSS, for the RSS and by the RSS… Christmas has been converted into Good Governance Day, Easter has been converted into Digital India Day and for the first time it is rather unfortunate that the Rashtrapati Bhavan did not hear Christmas carols during last Christmas,” Gogoi said.

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  1. A
    A. S. Mathew
    Feb 13, 2018 at 5:04 am
    The northeastern Christian majority States have high literacy rate. They are well aware of the open reality that the cution against the defenseless Christian in India has been rapidly increased, 300 . If the Christians of the northeastern States are bluffed by the soothing promises and monetary package, there is some big danger in that. If the Christians are blindly believing the BJP, GOD can't be blamed. For the first time in the Indian history, the minority Christian population of the northern States had to fear to celebrate the Christmas. Let another Rajastan election result be repeated SO HELP US GOD.
    1. R
      Rasmiranjan rath
      Feb 16, 2018 at 7:14 pm
      God doesn't exist... Be aithist
    2. R
      Feb 12, 2018 at 11:26 am
      These rice bag converts should be packed off to Texas, the home of Baptist filth. KhanChris over the last 60 years has ensured that the entire North East is converted. NEVER GIVE YOUR VOTE TO THE CATHOLIC WAITRESS and HER NINCOM SON.
      1. A
        A. S. Mathew
        Feb 13, 2018 at 5:09 am
        Tell PM Modi to visit the Christian nations of the world. He has already visited the U.S. six times. Please keep him in India.
      2. m
        Feb 12, 2018 at 5:40 am
        I don't understand what type of Pm is this?atul Bihari Vajpayee was the best PM BJP had created,it will take years to create another leaders of same calibre who worked for whole India. Pm.modi is attention seeker arrogant.
        1. Christian Terrorism Buster
          Feb 12, 2018 at 5:12 am
          Those familiar with the story of Black Christian Slave Nat Turner’s rebellion of 1831 know that a devout christian Turner was coerced by his slave master a white Christian off course, to read Bible Scripture to fellow slaves to convince them that their bondage and slavery was a matter of christian divine law based on Bible. In Ephesians 6:5, it reads, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” There you go. Bible preaches Slavery. And so Christian Churches have used terror to convert and then slave people all over the world.
          1. Christian Terrorism Buster
            Feb 12, 2018 at 5:10 am
            Spreading Christianity around the world with manipulative rhetoric, terror tactics, and bullying caused more bloodshed and brainwashing than anyone could imagine. Writer Amiri Baraka brilliantly commented on 11th-century holy wars in his book Blues People, citing the Christian Crusades as the admission of “the hypocrisy and opportunism of the Christians, and the apros ution of Christianity.” Such opportunism was practiced during slavery. The act of forcing slaves to abandon their African religions and adopt Christianity was a microcosm of the aforementioned Crusaders and the Christian Church, if you will: overthrowing the religion of an entire population to implement your own on them and elsewhere and then slaving them. This is true Christianity. It is a religion of terror, for terror and by terror.
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