The dubious battle for ‘cultural purity’ seems to be gaining ground. While the fringe right-wing group Sri Ram Sena attacked women in a Mangalore pub for violating the idea of a ‘pristine’ Hinduism, the Sangh Parivar is launching an ‘intellectual’ campaign to rescue tribal ‘purity’ from the influence of the Church.
On Wednesday, BJP tribal leader Karia Munda will re-release a book by three-time Congress MP of the Indira-era Kartik Oraon, to demand removal of tribal Christians from the ST category.
“We are expecting wide political support on our demand, including from the Congress. This is a genuine demand of all tribals,” says Harsh Chauhan, convenor of Janajati Suraksha Manch, allegedly an arm of RSS’s tribal wing Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram.
The late Kartik Oraon’s book Bees Varsh Ki Kaali Raat argues that Christian converts walked away with quota benefits meant for tribals in the first 20 years of Independence, despite having ‘abandoned’ tribal practices.
Oraon was Lok Sabha MP from Lohardaga, now in Jharkhand in 1967, 1971 and 1980 on a Congress ticket.
The Manch says Kartik Oraon handed a memorandum signed by 235 Lok Sabha MPs to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asking for converts to Christianity and Islam to be removed from the benefits of ST quota. The Sangh Parivar is keen to reinstate the demand all over again.
On whether ‘Hindu-ised’ tribals should also be removed from the ST quota for leaving their traditional belief system, Chauhan said Hinduism was a geographical identity and not a religion. “There is no conversion ritual to Hinduism. So there is no question of removing anyone claiming to be a Hindu from quota benefits,” he told HT. This is the also the Sangh Parivar line on Hinduism, which says that all followers of faiths born within India are Hindus, leaving Christianity and Islam out.