Shillong: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for accusing it of “offering money” to churches in poll-bound Meghalaya ahead of the February 27 assembly elections.
“We don’t believe in buying or selling votes,” state BJP president Shibun Lyngdoh told journalists a day after Gandhi targeted the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, saying a huge sum of money was given to various churches.
“Instead of giving the report card of the state government led by the Congress, he (Rahul Gandhi) is using the election platform to fool the people of Meghalaya,” he said.
Lyngdoh said the BJP believed in liberty of people to vote for development.
On January 7, Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons announced a tourism package of Rs 70 crore to develop religious and spiritual circuits in the state.
But, the Presbyterian Church and the Catholic Church, besides the opposition Hill State People’s Democratic Party, raised their eyebrows over the offer.
Election to the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly will be held on February 27.
Former Congress Minister Alexander Laloo Hek, who joined the BJP to contest the assembly polls, said: “The money was not from the party’s fund but sanctioned under ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme of the central government.”
“The Church in Meghalaya does not have any role in politics and Church leaders will never come out in support of any party or individual,” Hek said.
Earlier in the day, leaders of various Christian denominations voiced serious concerns over the sense of insecurity among the Christian minorities across India following the recent attacks on religious and educational institutions.
“We expressed our concern over the insecurity (of the community) because of incidents against minorities in some parts of the country, and the need (of the hour) to march and grow together and respect each other,” Bishop Michael of the Church of North India said.
Unitarian Church representative D.K.B. Mukhim said the discussion with Gandhi focussed on unity in diversity of India. “India is a secular and pluralistic society and we join hands with anyone working for safety and communal harmony, as Gandhi stressed his party’s principle of inclusiveness.”
After the meeting with religious leaders, Gandhi said there was angst and discomfort among the people because of the imposition of “one idea”, and Church leaders and other groups believed that India was made up of million perspectives and forcing only one perspective was not right.
“There is an assault on the culture prevailing in Meghalaya, North East states and across the country due to the imposition of one idea by the BJP and the RSS,” Gandhi said.