04/07/2009, 00.00
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Hindu nationalists: if we win the elections, we will dialogue with the Christians

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Bharatiya Janata Party pledges that it wants to institute "a permanent inter-faith consultative mechanism" for discussions with Christians, including "the issue of religious conversions." The secretary of the Indian bishops' conference: "I pray they mean what they say."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is promising to set up a permanent discussion group with Christians if it wins the upcoming national elections. The BJP is the party of reference for the fundamentalist groups responsible for all of the anti-Christian violence in Orissa.

The BJP has inserted within its political platform a promise to institute "a permanent inter-faith consultative mechanism to promote harmony among and trust between communities. This mechanism." says the BJP manifesto, "will also be used for a sustained and sincere inter-faith dialogue between leaders of the Hindu and Christian communities on all aspects of life, including the issue of religious conversions. The dialogue should be held in the spirit of the unanimous report of inter-faith dialogue on conversions, which was organised at the Vatican in May 2006 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Council of Churches in Geneva."

Commenting on the news for AsiaNews, Percival Fernandez, the auxiliary bishop of Mumbai and the former secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, says that "the proposal of the BJP is welcome." To those who question the good intentions of the Hindu party and recall that various political figures have called the BJP a 'jingoistic party', the bishop says: "I pray they mean what they say, and not disguise  their real agenda by rhetoric that looks and sounds good but is in fact hollow!"

"The communal tendencies of some of the political parties, evident in their performance where groups of misguided people take law in their own hands and create terror and fear among people, and are supported by such parties, is a blot on the beauty of secular India which can be a beautiful example of true democracy to the whole world!"

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