BJP records impressive show in Christian-majority Meghalaya, Nagaland

In Nagaland, BJP secured wins in 12 seats and increased its vote share from 1.75% in 2013 to 14.4%. In Meghalaya, BJP won two seats--its best performance ever in the state—and increased its vote share from 1.27% in 2013 to 9.6%.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2018 23:27 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Christianity in northeast,Christian organisation,Bharatiya Janata Party
A placard with the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pictured near a rally of supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as they celebrate following state election victories, outside the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on March 3.(AFP Photo)

Ahead of elections to the Nagaland assembly, a powerful Christian organisation warned voters of the faith to be wary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Even so, the BJP did exceedingly well in the northeastern state, where it is likely to form the next government with ally National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP).

The BJP, which fielded candidates for 20 of the 60 seats in the state, secured wins in 12---its best show till date since 2003, when it won in seven seats. In 2008, it won two seats, and in 2013, only one.

“We can’t deny that the Hindutva movement in the country has become unprecedentedly strong and invasive in the past few years with the BJP, the political wing of RSS, in power,” the Nagaland Baptist Church Council said in a statement last month ahead of the assembly poll. RSS stands for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The statement was issued by Zelhou Keyho, general secretary of NBCC, the umbrella organization for over 1,500 Baptist churches in the state where over 90% of the population is Christian.

“Have you ever seriously questioned their intention? If you have not, do not be fooled,” the statement added.

On Saturday, with the BJP increasing its vote share in the state from 1.75% in 2013 to 14.4%, Keyho admitted that voters in Nagaland had ignored the NBCC’s statement.

“What has been done can’t be undone for the next five years. I will give the development a positive spin and hope that wins by Christian candidates from the BJP would spur the party to raise its voice for minority communities outside Nagaland,” Keyho said.

In Meghalaya, another Christian-majority state, the Centre’s announcement of a Rs 70-crore package to develop places of worship was rejected by two major church organisations.

On Saturday, the saffron party, which contested 47 seats in Meghalaya, won two--its best performance ever in the state—and increased its vote share from 1.27% in 2013 to 9.6% this time.

No party won a clear majority in Meghalaya. BJP’s ally National People’s Party came in second after the Congress (21), winning 19 seats, and has a chance of forming the next government.

“The offer of money to churches was not a healthy exercise. The election is over, but issues remain. I would like to see the next government focusing on health, education and jobs,” said Reverend K Pyrtuh, a senior member of Meghalaya’s Presbyterian church body.

First Published: Mar 03, 2018 22:50 IST