The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unit in the predominantly Christian state of Nagaland has warned the party leadership that increasing attacks on churches would have an adverse impact on the party's election prospects and smear its secular credentials.
"Being a national party, the local politics of one of its units in any part of the country could well affect the politics and election prospects of the BJP in the rest of the country," James Vizo, president of the BJP youth wing of Nagaland, said in a letter to party president Rajnath Singh.
The strongly worded letter comes in the wake of churches being vandalised in Karnataka and Christians targeted by radical Hindu groups in other parts of the country.
The BJP is an important constituent of the Nagaland People's Front (NPF) led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government in Nagaland, which is the only state in the predominantly Christian northeastern region where the saffron party has managed to make its presence felt in the last six years.
"Such incidents do not bode well for the future of a national party like the BJP that has high secular credentials nationally," Vizo said.
The Nagaland unit of the BJP shot off the warning letter after the saffron party came under attack from its main coalition partner in the government, the NPF.
"The atrocities against the Christians and attacks on churches have put a question mark on the country's secular ethos. Such acts must be stopped immediately and the culprits be brought to book," NPF president Shurhozelie Liezietsu said.
Nagaland's main opposition Congress party has also come down heavily on the BJP for the growing attacks on churches across the country.
"Political parties like the BJP were trying to communalise the situation and attacking churches for power. Such acts of vandalism must be stopped with a firm hand," Nagaland Congress party president K.V. Pusa said.
The powerful church in Nagaland too has expressed serious concern over the recent attacks. The mounting pressure on the BJP for the attacks on churches have definitely embarrassed the DAN government in Nagaland, with questions asked as to why the NPF was hobnobbing with a 'communal party' (BJP) as its coalition partner in the state.
"We are on a sticky wicket now and unable to defend the party. Unless the national leadership of the party intervenes and stop such atrocities, the future of the BJP would be at stake in Nagaland," a senior BJP leader in Nagaland said, requesting not to be named.
The DAN government, backed by the NPF and the BJP, is in power for the second straight term in Nagaland, where more than 90 per cent of the little under 200,000 people are Christians.