Arunachal Christian Forum Backs Congress, Sparks BJP Fury

Arunachal Christian Forum

The Arunachal Christian Forum (ACF) has ignited a political firestorm by openly declaring support for two Congress candidates in the upcoming 2024 general election in Arunachal Pradesh, drawing sharp criticism from BJP leaders.

ACF’s Controversial Circular

In a circular issued on 3 April, 2024, the ACF urged its members and denominational organisations to back Congress candidates Nabam Tuki and Bosiram Siram, who are contesting against BJP’s sitting MPs in the state. The move has particularly irked Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, who accused Congress leader Rahul Gandhi of misusing the Christian forum for political gains.

Kiren Rijiju

Rijiju questioned why Gandhi allowed such actions during the election, highlighting the growing tensions between religious groups and the BJP-led government in the northeast.

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History of Religious Organisations in Political Controversies

This is not the first time religious organisations have become embroiled in political controversies in the region. During the 2019 general election, the Arunachal Pradesh Catholic Association faced similar backlash after appealing to its members to pray and vote for Congress candidates. The Election Commission had to intervene, directing the Catholic body to withdraw the appeal and apologise.

Religious Demographics in Arunachal Pradesh

The northeastern states of India have a significant Christian population, with Christians making up over 30% of Arunachal Pradesh’s 1.56 million people. Hindus constitute 29.04%, while local indigenous faiths account for 26.20%. Interestingly, the four prominent candidates in the fray from Arunachal Pradesh follow the state’s indigenous religions, adding another layer of complexity to the political landscape.

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Christian Organisations’ Criticism of BJP’s Alleged “Communal Politics”

Christian organisations in the region, including some in Nagaland, have been vocal in their criticism of the BJP’s alleged “communal politics.” They have urged voters to cast their ballots against BJP candidates in the upcoming election, scheduled for 19 April, 2024.

The controversy comes amid heightened tensions between religious groups and the BJP-led government in the northeast. The Assam government recently introduced the contentious Assam Healing (Prevention of Evil) Practices Bill, 2024, which has raised concerns among the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, cutting across party lines.

Prominent Northeastern Leaders’ Political Affiliations

Interestingly, several prominent northeastern leaders, including Chief Ministers Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh), Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland), Himanta Biswa Sarma (Assam), and N Biren Singh (Manipur), were previously associated with the Congress party before joining the BJP. This shift in political allegiances adds another dimension to the complex interplay of religion and politics in the region.

As the 2024 general election approaches, the ACF’s open support for Congress candidates has reignited debates about the role of religious organisations in politics and the growing divide between the BJP and Christian communities in the northeastern states of India.

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The outcome of this election will not only determine the political future of Arunachal Pradesh but also shed light on the intricate relationship between faith and governance in the region. With tensions running high and the stakes even higher, the people of Arunachal Pradesh will soon have their say in shaping the course of their state and the nation as a whole.

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