Meghalaya Chief Minister and National People's Party (NPP) national president, Conrad K Sangma, first attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nomination rally in Varanasi on 27th April and accompanied Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Bishop’s House, Lucknow on 3rd May. His continued cosiness with the saffron party has raised eyebrows in the state. The CM went to the UP twin cities to garner votes for the BJP. Lucknow is of particular interest. He assured Christians there that the BJP is for Christians.
The view of the Bishop of Lucknow on the BJP is unknown to me. But incidents and statistics (news reports) prove the last five years were traumatic for Christians in BJP ruled states, particularly UP. In the last five years, violence against religious, cultural, political, linguistic and ethnic minorities were the order of the day. Soon after the BJP stormed to power in 2014 Dharm Jagran Samiti’s (DJS) Uttar Pradesh head thundered, “Our target is to make India a Hindu Rashtra by 2021. The Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here. So they would either be converted to Hinduism or ….”
Word Watch Monitor reported that in 2016 there were 441 attacks on Christians; in the first six months of 2017 the number of incidents against the community was 410.
In October 23, 2017, Hindu Jagran Manch activists forcefully pulled down Christian children from a train in Indore. Again, in June the same year, on a complaint by Bajrang Dal, a Catholic nun and four tribal girls were detained while traveling. In December 2017, a group of priests and seminarians singing Christmas carols were detained on a complaint by the Bajrang Dal in Madhya Pradesh.
In August 2017, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan . In the same year India rose from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors World Watch List, just one place below Iran in persecution severity.
According to Wikipedia UP tops the list of hate crimes against Christians in 2016. Ever since Yogi Adityanath assumed office, there were multiple incidents of violence against Christians.
The attacks on Christians were perpetrated directly or indirectly by the RSS/BJP and their various affiliated right-wing outfits. Never forgotten is that the Prime Minister rarely condemned these atrocities. So while North-Eastern leaders like the Meghalaya CM have great rapport with PM and the BJP top leadership their fellow Christians in ‘mainland India’ suffered greatly during the Modi regime and will, likely, have to endure more persecution if Modi is re-elected.
The CM’s endorsement of Modi in Varanasi and his help in minority good image exercise of Rajnath Singh has reinforced and reaffirmed his close links with the RSS backed party. The ambiguous relationship between the NPP and the BJP has now been removed. There is a nexus between the two. In the run up to last year’s Assembly election the then NPP chief categorically stated that his party had nothing to do with the party that minorities view with apprehension. However, soon after the results he willingly partnered with the BJP to form the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government.
At the preparatory stage of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 (CAB) the CM opposed the communally ridden bill. His cabinet was the first to pass a resolution against it. The BJP, brazenly and intentionally, ignored mass opposition and protests from Meghalaya and the North East, bulldozed the bill and passed it in the Lok Sabha. The CM refused to act but instead threatened to pull out of the NDA if the controversial bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha. Though the bill was force to lapse, the BJP tried every trick in the book to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. Our CM could have easily cut off ties with NDA but he did not. Now the BJP has included CAB in its general election manifesto. In election campaigns in Assam, the PM and Amit Shah have raised their pitch for CAB and made ample clear that they will bring back the contentious bill if voted back to power. The Meghalaya CM has no issue and is even closer to the BJP.
Were the Varanasi and Lucknow trips necessary? Meghalaya had already voted on 11th April. A hypothetical will answer the question. If the polls in his home state were to be after Varanasi and Lucknow would have the twin visits happened? The answer is a resounding ‘No’. His home voters would be upset. So, a subtle dishonesty is evident.
The son of PA Sangma has harping on development to defend and justify his bond with the BJP. He cites the considerable increase of schemes in the state in the last five years.
Now, India has a federal system. The Central government has a constitutional duty to assist states irrespective of ideological differences. That assistance is not based on friendship between the CMs and the PM. Trinamool (West Bengal), TDP government (Andhra Pradesh), TRS government (Telangana), AAP government (Delhi), Left government (Kerala), Congress governments in different states might be hostile to the centre but there is no blocking of development. Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, HD Kumaraswamy, Naveen Patnaik, K Chandrashekhar Rao, Arvind Kejriwal and Pinarayi Vijayan may be the Centre’s bitter political rivals but the centre can’t deny development for their states.
Part XI of the Indian constitution is on the federal structure of the Indian Republic. Besides the distribution of legislative, administrative, executive and financial powers, article 275(1) deals grants-in-aid for needy states from the Consolidated Fund of India.
The Constitution specifically states that funds are to be allotted for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes in different states including all the North Eastern states. Therefore, the central government is duty bound to fund development of states. If the Union government implicitly or explicitly says that it will provide funds only for friendly states then it is nothing short of black mailing. It should be condemned, challenged and exposed. Moreover, the centre itself violates the constitutional law of Federalism and is, therefore, anti-constitutional.
It appears that our CM and other CMs in the North East are hooked and tricked by the centre. The centre is using its muscle power. A threat of ‘support for get funds for your state’ seems to be in place. They have easily compromised on their ideology for lure of funds. The North East leaders need to be educated on federalism.
Leaders from the North East might have gained personally for allying with the BJP. ‘The funds for our state’ must be only a mask for massive personal benefits. With a declared income of 1,034 crore, BJP is the richest political party in the country. Is this the reason for non-Congress leaders in the region to be attracted to the BJP? Secretly people estimate scandalous amounts that might have changed hands.
The NPP chief has allegedly been benefiting from the illegal mining and transportation of coal. The black money derived therefrom is believed to have been used to fund elections in the state and outside. The NPP has put up candidates in 11 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the North East. Who are funding the party? Besides the black diamond, could the BJP be the other bigger source? Therefore, the chief has to submit himself to the wishes of the BJP top brass.
What is the problem with the BJP, a political party? Well, the political party is backed by a proto-fascist organisation, the RSS. The BJP cannot exist without the Sangh. The BJP and RSS are inseparable. The ‘social organisation’ is the ideological base while the BJP helps to carry out its agenda. The RSS’s agenda is Hindu Rashtra where other religious minorities would be subservient citizens. RSS’ ideology is Hindutva which foresees one religion, one culture and one language. Our CM might contribute to the ‘acceptability’ of the BJP and RSS in the state.
The CM is also accused of not being in control of his government. Is he being remote controlled from Delhi? Are there powerful men in the national capital who issue diktats? Is he being influenced ideologically? Is he attached to the BJP’s string? What are the compelling reasons for his increasingly cosy relationship with the communal party? Is he a BJP admirer now? Is he ready to be a ‘saffron pracharak’?
(Published on 13th May 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 20)