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50,000 workers quit Assam BJP

The workers quit accusing the party of ignoring Christian ticket seekers.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2006 18:58 IST

About 50,000 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in Assam have quit, accusing the party of ignoring Christian ticket seekers for next month's assembly elections.

"There were some 10 ticket aspirants belonging to the Christian community and the party simply rejected all of them. This is a big insult to the Christians and so we decided to leave the party en masse," said Dewan Rongpi, a Christian BJP leader active in eastern Assam's Karbi Anglong district.

At least a dozen senior Christian leaders along with 49,231 active party workers have quit the BJP in the past few days.

"Close to 50,000 active party workers have already resigned, unable to bear the humiliation at the hands of some communally slanted leaders," Rongpi said.

The Assam BJP leadership denies the charges of communal bias.

"Selection for tickets was not based on religious lines. We are looking at the winning chances of the candidates," said a senior BJP leader.

The BJP had won eight of the 126 assembly seats in the 2001 poll when it had an alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). The BJP this time is fighting alone after being spurned by the AGP for an alliance.

The BJP's strategy to penetrate into Christian dominated areas differs with the local party leaders willing to walk the extra mile to appease the community, while the national leadership adopts a belligerent posture.

BJP president Rajnath Singh recently told an election rally in Guwahati that the party had urged the central government to frame laws to prevent conversions to Christianity.

"There is a threat to this country from Christian missionaries who in the name of development and welfare activities are converting poor people, especially in tribal areas across the country," Singh said.

"We have warned all states ruled by the BJP not to allow any form of conversions that are bound to affect or threaten the social structure of the country."

Despite the party leadership in New Delhi claiming that it would be in a position to form the next government in Assam, or at least have the ability to be a 'kingmaker', the ground situation and the morale of the local leaders are far from jubilant.

"Forming the government without the support of the Christians and Muslims is unthinkable in Assam. We may do well in some segments but there are internal revolts within the party that is worrying," said another BJP leader in Guwahati.

"We shall have to change tactics in Assam to win the hearts of these two religious communities if we are to make serious political inroads in the future."

First Published: Mar 23, 2006 17:44 IST