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Corruption, ‘forced conversion’ to be BJP’s poll planks in Chhattisgarh :Nidae Kashmir

Corruption, ‘forced conversion’ to be BJP’s poll planks in Chhattisgarh

   43 Views  |     |   Monday, March, 27, 2023

Corruption, 'forced conversion' to be BJP's poll planks in Chhattisgarh

The recent violence triggered by allegations of forced religious conversion in the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh could be a central issue in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral campaign in the state that goes to polls later in the year.

The BJP, grappling with intraparty discord and disagreement over who will be the chief ministerial candidate, is hoping to make the issues of religious conversion and corruption as the bedrock of its campaign in the state where it was ousted from power after 15 years in 2018 by the Congress party.

On January 2, a church was vandalised and six policemen injured during a protest by members of tribal communities over an alleged religious conversion in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur city.

The issue of religious conversion will be taken up by the BJP in the run up to the polls, according to a party leader speaking on condition of anonymity. “In recent weeks, attacks against Christians and the vandalism of churches has exposed the growing strain between the tribal community leaders and the missionaries over religious conversion,” the leader said.

Although coerced religious conversion is illegal in the state, the BJP and its ideological fount, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, allege that conversion in contravention of the laws is prevalent.

The RSS affiliated Janjati Suraksha Manch (JSM) has been demanding changes to the reservation law for scheduled tribes to bar those who have converted to Islam or Christianity from benefitting from quotas in education and government jobs. “Apart from corruption, which is visible in every sphere, we will take up the issue of changing the demography of the tribal areas. There has been a concerted effort to induce fear and use money as a lure to convert tribal people and compel them to state that they are not Hindus,” said a JSM functionary.

Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Sunday, however, attacked the BJP for failing to prevent illegal conversions. He told reporters in Raipur that he has a list of churches that came up during the BJP’s rule and blamed the party for fostering communalism.

Besides raking up the issue of conversion, the BJP is also aiming to increase its outreach among the tribal communities that make up for about 33% of the electorate on the basis of the implementation of central welfare schemes.

Both the BJP and the Congress are competing to woo the tribal communities. The Congress has accused governor Anusuiya Uikey of not giving assent to the two bills, the Chhattisgarh Public Service (Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes Reservation) Amendment Bill and Chhattisgarh Educational Institutions (Reservation in admission) Amendment Bill, passed last month to increase the reservation for STs to 32% in the state.

The state BJP unit, however, has been asked to put up a united face. “There were many opportunities to build pressure and expose the delay in carrying out developmental work in the state, but the state unit was scattered into groups. At least three camps are pushing for their leaders to be announced as the CM candidate,” said a second leader.


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