11/19/2019, 17.19
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Andhra Pradesh Hindu nationalist claims Christian Chief minister is behind ‘forced conversions’

by Nirmala Carvalho

Andhra Pradesh’s current chief minister took office only last May in a State where the percentage of Christians is decreasing. Christian community leader slams the slanderous statement by local BJP leader Kanna Lakshminarayana, says the latter is “highly irresponsible and can only feed suspicion and divisions.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Forced conversions have increased in Andhra Pradesh after a Christian become the State’s chief minister, this according to Kanna Lakshminarayana, local head of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), slammed the attack on “Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy,” who is also the leader of the YSR Congress Party[*], which broke away from the Indian Congress party of Rahul Gandhi.

The latter “has been criticised by the opposition because of his Christian faith. This is just a political move to win votes. In fact, the programmes the (State) government is implementing benefit everyone, young people and women.”

The extremist Hindu leader slandered the head of the State government during the inauguration of party offices in Vijayawada.

In his view, "religious conversions have increased since the YSR Congress Party took power (in May 2019). And there is no doubt that they are sponsored by the government.”

What is more, for Lakshminarayana, the current administration plans to “demolish Hindu temples just as the TDP[†] regime did” when it governed the State between 2014 and 2019.

The GCIC “condemns the accusation of conversions and sectarian tensions,” said Sajan K George. Such a charge “stokes divisions based on religious identity.”

“According to the 2011 census, the majority of the population in Andhra Pradesh is Hindu (90.87 per cent), followed by Muslims (7.32 per cent) and Christians (1.38 per cent).” In fact, “The data show a decline in the number of Christians in the State.”

In addition, "Christian and Muslim Dalits are denied reserved status in secular India,” explained the Christian community leader. In their case, as members of “disadvantaged castes they are discriminated on the basis of their faith.”

More specifically, Christian Dalits face “a daily struggle against discrimination, oppression and humiliation,” which “keeps them at the bottom of the socio-economic scale.”

“Making such comments without understanding the causes of religious conversions is very unfortunate and highly irresponsible and can only feed suspicion and divisions.”

[*] Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party.

[†] Telugu Desam Party.

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