Kiren Rijiju does it again, says Hindu population reducing as they never convert
Junior minister for home affairs Kirren Rijiju has done it again and will get away with it, again. The noise he raised through a tweet about depleting Hindu population is a subject close to the heart of the RSS, the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor and umbrella organisation of Hindu outfits in India.
Rijiju comes from Arunachal Pradesh and the RSS’ concern has been about the growing influence of Christian missionaries in the northeast, whom it accuses of converting the tribal population to Christianity. A majority of RSS pracharaks are today deployed in the northeastern region, which shares boundaries with China besides Nepal and Bhutan.
Rijiju is making noises that the RSS and many in the BJP want to. As a junior minister, he gives a cushion to his seniors to maintain an arm’s length from any serious controversy that his comments could trigger. The 45-year-old flamboyant minister and controversies go hand in hand.
The clean-shaven and glasses-wearing politician was in news recently for an alleged role in what is being claimed to be a Rs 450 crore scam in a hydropower project in his Arunchal Pradesh.
That did not come as surprise to many leaders in the BJP, who have seen him entering Parliament first in 2004 (then just 33), walk out of the party after losing the 2009 election, make a homecoming in 2012 and eventually getting a ministerial position after winning the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
He was full of energy, always wanting to indulge in politics of patronage to build a constituency for himself beyond the limits of his Lok Sabha boundaries.
He walked out in 2009 after realising that the BJP lacked organisation muscle in Arunchal to fulfill his chief ministerial ambition. He could not survive in the Congress either.
At the peak of negotiation with the BJP leadership in 2011, he had told the party to wake up to the “reality” of northeast politics and tune its strategy accordingly. The response from the BJP leadership was not encouraging, but Rijiju, then an advisor to chief minister Dorjee Khandu, was with few choices. He returned to the BJP.
Between 2004 and 2009 -- his first stint as Lok Sabha MP -- Rijiju caught eyeballs in the BJP and the RSS with his “nationalist” stand in the northeast. He was born in a village that came under Chinese occupation in the 1962 war.
The BJP had won both the Lok Sabha constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh in 2004, but Rijiju was far more flamboyant and extrovert than the other MP, Tapir Gao, to embrace Delhi. As an alumnus of Hansraj College in Delhi, he knew how to survive in the national capital.
Gao would often remain in the backdrop when Rijiju would address media on issues related to the northeast. “Gao was more committed to party and the ideology. But Rijiju was a smart politician,” a BJP leader said.
He was a favourite of LK Advani, then leader of opposition, and Sushma Swaraj, but was never affiliated to any camp in the BJP. This helped him in 2014, too, when Modi decided to chose new faces to man ministries after a landslide victory.
Lady luck smiled on Rijiju as Gao lost the election. It would have been a difficult choice to choose between them for a ministerial job if both had won.