We’re very happy over BJP-BJD split: Orissa archbishop

March 9th, 2009 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) The church is happy to see Orissa’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) part ways with ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), top Christian leader Archbishop Rafel Cheenath said Monday while hoping that secular parties would now govern the state.
“We are very happy over the termination of the alliance between the BJP and the BJD. Now all small secular parties have come together in the state. We hope the BJD government will continue after the trust vote (Wednesday) with the support of all small parties,” Cheenath, who is the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archbishop, told IANS by phone from the state capital.

Violence against Christians in Orissa by Hindu rightwing activists last year, particularly in Kandhamal district, is believed to be one of the reasons behind the collapse of the BJD-BJP alliance in the state.

“The Kandhamal incident may be one of the reasons for breaking the alliance,” Cheenath acknowledged.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat has said his party leaders met Orissa Chief Minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik following the attack on Christians by rightwing Hindu groups and told him that “it is untenable for him to continue with the BJP”.

Kandhamal district in Orissa witnessed large-scale violence against Christians after the murder of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati Aug 23 last year. At least 38 people were killed and thousands of Christians were driven out of their homes.

Cheenath himself received death threats from alleged VHP activists that his life would be taken to avenge the killing of the Hindu seer.

He expressed hope that secular forces would come to power in the state after the general elections. Polls to the legislative assembly will be held in Orissa along with those for the Lok Sabha on April 16 and April 23.

Cheenath said the situation was still not normal in the violence-hit Kandhamal district as the conspirators of the riots were still holding meetings at night. “And the police have not arrested the criminals who killed the innocent people,” he said.

“Threat still prevails in the district. More than 4,000 people are still in the refugee camps. They are not able to go home. Only Christians who converted to Hinduism are allowed to stay in their homes,” he said.

The archbishop also urged the government to distribute the compensation announced for the riot victims.

-Indo-Asian News Service


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