BJP and Congress Pull Meghalaya Church into Politics

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BJP supporters participate at a rally in Meghalaya. Elections will be held on February 27 (File).

Meghalaya church has been drawn into politics as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress slammed each other over the Centre’s tourism package for the state before assembly elections.

On Jan. 31, BJP demanded an apology from Congress president Rahul Gandhi for slandering the saffron party’s intentions in ‘offering money to churches’.

“Rahul should apologize or withdraw his statement. It sends a wrong message to the people of Meghalaya,” said Shibun Lyngdoh, president of the state unit of BJP.

By throwing blames on BJP, Congress president is trying to defame the church as a ‘commodity that can be bought,’ Lyngdoh added.

On Jan. 30, Gandhi visited Meghalaya to draw support for his party candidates in the seven assembly constituencies in Jaintia Hills District.

On his visit, he criticized BJP, saying, “You will find the BJP has a lot of money. These days their leadership believes that everything can be bought.”

“I am very sad to hear that the BJP offered money to our churches in what I consider to be a huge sum…,” he said.

The war of words between the two was centered around the grant of 613 million rupees ($10 million) that union tourism minister K.J. Alphons announced on Jan. 8 for the facelift and maintenance of churches in Meghalaya.

However, the state Catholic leaders said the center’s financial help ahead of elections in the state, which will be held in less than a month, is not commended.

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