SHILLONG : For the BJP, which is trying to build a base in Christian-majority Meghalaya, shedding the “Hindutva” image will be its biggest challenge as it goes to the election.The ruling Congress has launched a vitriolic campaign against the BJP, branding its rival as a party of the Hindus. It is telling voters that if the BJP comes to power, the Christians will be harassed and that there could be restrictions on their food habits, particularly a ban on beef.The politics over religion started after the Indian consulate in South Africa rejected visa application of a Christian preacher. The Congress had termed the act as an instance of “anti-Christian” attitude of the BJP government.
Baptist World Alliance (BWA) president Ngwedla Paul Msiza was scheduled to visit Meghalaya to witness a religious celebration. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma termed the rejection of visa to the preacher as the BJP’s indifference to Christianity.The BJP accused the Congress of communalising the February 27 elections. “The Congress is running a negative campaign and communalising the polls. They are doing this as they have not been able to answer to charges of scams committed by their government in Meghalaya,” BJP national spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.
Local BJP leaders are trying hard to send across a message that the BJP is not anti-Christians or anti-Christianity. “The Congress is saying there will be restrictions on the food habits of tribals, if the BJP rises to power. This is nothing but propaganda and a nasty campaign. The BJP is not going to interfere in the personal affairs of any. It is entirely up to the people what they will eat and what they will not,” said BJP leader Robinus Syngkon. “The BJP is a secular party as it stands for all religions as per the Constitution of India.”
And, there are signs that the Christians have started embracing the party. “Who said the BJP is anti-Christian? The BJP is for all. We love the party for its thrust on development,” said Preston Tariang, a voter of Mokaiaw Assembly constituency in Jaintia Hills.
Several hundred people danced holding posters and banners of the BJP when Syngkon addressed a rally at Sahsniang on Saturday.