The defeat of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in India signals the loss of political power of Hindu nationalism as well as renewed Christian hopes of relaxed restrictions against evangelization.
The victory of the secularist Congress Party and the marginalization of the BJP primarily means the loss of political influence of Hindu nationalism, reports India Abroad newspaper (June 22). During the election the BJP downplayed its ties to Hindu Nationalism, as represented by such hard-line groups as the National Volunteer Corps (known as the RSS). The BJP suffered in areas where the RSS was especially strong, such as in the state of Gujarat, where Hindu-Muslim violence had been intense.
The RSS now accuses the BJP of “pussyfooting” on Hindu nationalist issues and thus losing the election. Praful Bidwai writes that the BJP is at a fork in the road, having to choose between a more pragmatic identity that accepts the reality of religious and ideological pluralism or a “communal” or Hindu approach that would lead to marginalization.
The Christian press, at least in the U.S., was quick to note the political change in India, particularly as it relates to the promise of renewed missionary activity. The first ever non-Hindu Indian Prime Minister, Manmouhan Singh, an Oxford-educated Sikh and economist, will bring about a “wind of change,” especially in regard to restrictions against evangelistic activity, according to the evangelical Missions Network News.
Christian News (June 14) cites the news service as reporting that the Christian organization, Bibles For The World, plans to open 3,000 Christian schools around India’s capital of New Delhi. An official from the organization is quoted as saying that schools are “one way” of reaching out to the community and that churches and hospitals are expected to follow.
(India Abroad, http://www.rediff.com; Christian News, 684 Luther Lane, New Haven, MO 63068-2213)