10/14/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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BJP’s anticorruption yatra designed to strike at Christian Dalits, Indian activist says

by Nirmala Carvalho
Vincent Manoharan, a Dalit and founder of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), reacts to L.K. Advani, ex leader of India’s foremost Hindu ultranationalist party, who is touring India on an anti-corruption pilgrimage (yatra). For Manoharan, “Corruption cannot be limited to just illegal exchange of money and certain favours”.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – “The menace of corruption has crossed all limits,” said Vincent Manoharan, but L. K. Advani’s “anticorruption yatra will encourage Hindu extremists to perpetrate violence against Dalits, especially if they are Christian.” A Dalit activist and founder of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCHHR), Manoharan was referring to the anticorruption pilgrimage (yatra) organised by Lal Kishanchand Advani, the old leader of the Hindu ultranationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Last Sunday, Advani launched a personal campaign against corruption in line with the BJP’s position on the matter. Many have criticised Advani for this, accusing him of using his anti-corruption drive to stage a comeback for the prime minister’s office in 2014 elections, and this despite his age (84). Others believe the BJP is using the old leader’s charisma to regain votes.

The BJP has a history of backing Hindu extremist groups from the Sangh Parivar, like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, organisations that have been involved on several occasions in anti-Dalit and Anti-Christian violence. Advani himself, a moderate by BJP standards, began his career with the RSS.

“Our perception of corruption,” Manoharan said, “has wider connotations. Corruption cannot be limited to just illegal exchange of money and certain favours. For us, the wilful denial of our concerns, space and rights in all social, economic and political domains amounts to corruption. Such corruption in the name of caste, class and patriarchy is detrimental to our dignity, our right to equal space and livelihood.”

According to the founder and president of the NCDHR, Advani’s yatra is “aimed at helping the BJP gain mileage and future political power.”

“Yatra, rallies and other forms of propaganda help Hindu fundamentalists bolster their violent plans against Dalits,” Manoharan explained. “Every time BJP officials get back in power, they show their strength and importance by attacking Christian Dalits. No other caste has experienced such violence."
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