BJP promises free Jerusalem trip to Nagaland voters
By Matters India Reporter
Kohima: The Bharatiya Janata Party, which heads the federal coalition and controls 19 state government, has promised to send Christians in Nagaland to Jerusalem on a free trip, if it is elected to power in the northeastern Indian state.
The election promise is aimed to counter fears of a Hindu invasion among Nagaland voters, reports The Hindu newspaper.
“We plan to send groups of senior Christian citizens to Jerusalem if our party comes to power,” Nagaland BJP spokesperson James Vizo told the Chennai-based mass circulation newspaper.
The opposition Congress party, which is seeking a revival in the Christian-dominated state, had earlier promised subsidy for the trip. “By an Act of the State government, a Board will be established to facilitate minorities to visit the Holy Land at a subsidized cost,” the party’s manifesto said.
The BJP is facing the February 27 Assembly election as an ally of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, a new regional party. “The pilgrimage for our senior citizens could be free, but that needs to be worked out later,” Vizo said.
The Holy Land promise comes in the wake of a warning issued by the Nagaland Baptist Church Council to voters against Hindutva forces.
In an open letter to the presidents of all political parties contesting the Nagaland election, the council alleged “worst persecution of minority communities from 2015 to 2017” in various parts of India.
The BJP came to power in New Delhi in May 2014.
“We cannot deny that the Hindutva movement in the country has become strong and invasive in the past few years with the BJP, the political wing of the RSS, in power,” the NBCC said in the February 9 letter.
Reverend Aelhou Keyho, general secretary of the Nagaland Baptist Churches Council who wrote the letter, pleaded with the Nagaland politicians not to surrender their Christian principles and faith for the sake of money and development.
He also urged them not to fall into “the hands” of those using development as a ploy to “pierce the heart of Jesus Christ” and “allow God to weep.”
The Baptist leader said he was compelled to write the open letter to caution the Naga politicians about a party that works “tooth and nail” to make its presence known and seen in Nagaland, a frontline Christian-majority state in India. “Have you ever seriously questioned their intention? If you have not, do not be fooled,” the letter said.