BJP resorts to sponsorship politics

Camil Parkhe
Saturday, 31 March 2018

Party seeks to shed its anti-Christian tag with sponsorship for tours to Jerusalem.

In keeping with its election promise, the ruling front in Nagaland, comprising the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the BJP, has announced its plans to provide financial aid to Christian devotees to visit the Holy Land of Jerusalem.  

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, also a devout Christian, has said that guidelines will be prepared to enable Christians to visit the Holy Land. He said that his government will partly sponsor the pilgrimage. 

In Nagaland, a front that had a pre-poll alliance has won power with the BJP alone winning 12 seats in the Christian dominated (89 per cent of the population) north eastern state. In its election campaign, the BJP and other parties of the front had promised to provide a subsidy to Christian devotees to visit Jerusalem.

The Nagaland Joint Christian Forum and Nagaland Baptist Churches Council had strongly protested against the poll promises in a secular country. 

The recent poll verdict in the three north eastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura has done what was perceived by poll pundits as unimaginable. The BJP in Tripura demolished one of the last few bastions of the Left parties in the parliamentary democratic world. The BJP has also become a part of the ruling group in Nagaland and in Meghalaya - the two states which are dominated by Christians. Tripura also has a large Christian population. The BJP has made inroads in Meghalaya and won impressive seats in Nagaland despite the fact that its anti-Christian stance was highlighted by its rival parties during the poll campaign.

It is true that some prominent local factors have enabled the BJP to achieve this remarkable poll victories. The moot question is: Will these poll verdicts bring perceptible changes in the attitude of Christians in the three states and all over the country towards the BJP/Sangh Parivar and vice versa?

The BJP has secured 12 seats in Nagaland despite the fact that this party has always been accused of being anti-Christian or anti-minorities. During the poll campaign, Nagaland Baptist Church Council had also issued a statement, asking voters not to vote for the BJP due to the party’s anti-Christian stance. The poll verdicts in all the three states clearly says that the BJP’s anti-Christian tag has not deterred Christian voters in reposing their faith in the party.

The Nagaland churches have however asked devotees not to avail the state government aid to visit the Holy Land. This is not the first time that the BJP has won power where Christians are a sizeable population. Under Manohar Parrikar, the BJP has formed a government in Goa more than two times.

The BJP has also managed to keep aside controversial issues of consumption of beef and Ghar Wapsi. With the BJP being a part of the ruling group in these four states with large Christian populations, it is expected that this party and its parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), will not raise these controversial issues all over the country for some time in the future. That will indeed be a positive outcome of the poll verdict in north eastern states.

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