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The Hindu Bureau | Shillong | Feb 6, 2023:: The BJP has gone into damage control mode in poll-bound Meghalaya after a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-backed organisation in adjoining Assam launched a drive for stripping indigenous people who undergo a religious conversion of their Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
On February 5, the Janajati Dharma Sanskriti Suraksha Mancha decided to step up its agitation for delisting the converted people among the STs and making them ineligible for jobs and other benefits.
The organisation said its members would organise a ‘Chalo Dispur’ programme on February 12 to push both the Central and State governments to amend Article 342A of the Constitution of India for facilitating the delisting process. Dispur is the seat of power in Guwahati.
The Mancha’s demand has reportedly made the BJP uneasy in Meghalaya and Nagaland. Assembly elections in these two northeastern States are scheduled on February 27.
In Meghalaya’s capital Shillong, the BJP dismissed the perception that it was anti-Christian.
“The Opposition parties take this line of attack during every election when they have nothing else to say against us. The BJP is not against the church but against those who are anti-India,” BJP national general secretary Rituraj Sinha told journalists.
He insisted that the BJP was living up to its slogan of sabka saath sabka vikas (collective efforts for inclusive growth) by not discriminating against any community. He also underlined Central schemes that entail financial assistance for churches and Christian organisations.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) said the BJP’s claim about being sensitive about minorities was hollow.
“The BJP has constantly shown its aggressiveness against the minorities in an attempt to push the Hindutva agenda across the country. They have constantly failed to subscribe to the values and ethos of the Constitution and cases of atrocities against the minorities in Assam are too close for comfort,” the party’s State vice-president George B. Lyngdoh said.
He appealed to the people of Meghalaya to reject parties that have a “divisive” agenda.
In Assam, the RSS-backed Mancha said its demand was first raised by Kartik Oraon, a Congress MP from undivided Bihar in the 1960s who had pointed out that ST converts were getting a major chunk of the reservation benefits. A joint parliamentary committee was formed in 1968 to study the issue.
“Those who have adopted foreign religions like Christianity and Islam are getting double benefits. They put their children in schools taking benefits as a minority but take up scholarships, jobs, and promotion meant for STs,” Binud Kumbang, co-convenor of the Mancha said.
“In addition, they take part in democratic exercises by contesting elections to be ministers, MPs, MLAs, and members of autonomous bodies. They are taking away the rights of tribals who are working hard to keep their tradition alive,” he said.
Courtesy: The Hindu.
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