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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Advani: Nun’s rape shameful

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani with Delhi Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao and a Christian priest during a meeting on violence in Orissa and Karnataka, in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani with Delhi Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao and a Christian priest during a meeting on violence in Orissa and Karnataka, in New Delhi on Wednesday. — A Tribune photograph

New Delhi, October 8
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani today came out in the open and condemned the anti-Christian violence in Orissa and other states. He went on to describe the rape of a Catholic nun in Orissa as “a shameful crime against humanity.”

Advani’s statements came at the end of a two-hour meeting between Christian and BJP leaders, and at a time when the UPA allies were mounting pressure on the government to ban the Bajrang Dal.

This is for the first time since communal violence broke out in Orissa that the BJP top brass decried it in such clear terms, issuing a joint statement with the Christian leadership and somewhat softening their stand. The statement stresses a sustained and sincere inter-faith dialogue between the Hindu and Christian leaders “on all aspects of life, including religious conversion.”

Interestingly, BJP leaders - Sushma Swaraj and Sudheendra Kulkarni - who were also present for the meeting mentioned that the inter-faith dialogue should be held in the spirit of the unanimous report against conversions adopted by the World Council of Churches in the Vatican in 2006. The said report, circulated in the meeting, strongly opposes the use of allurement and force to convert people. It was brought on the table by the BJP, which further called for “expeditious justice to the victims of Orissa violence.”

While Delhi Archbishop Vincent Concessao described the meeting as cordial and fruitful, he added that the controversial issues of imposition of the President’s rule in Orissa and the banning of the Bajrang Dal or the VHP were not raised.


No consensus on Bajrang Dal ban
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 8
The marathon meeting of the union cabinet today failed to arrive on any consensus on the controversial issue of banning the Bajrang Dal ahead of Assembly and general elections.

The issue came up for heated discussion when the Cabinet reassembled at 8 pm but did not end conclusively, with some members questioning its feasibility and legal standing. The Cabinet, however, decided to send a ministerial delegation to Orissa, even as home minister Shivraj Patil told the members that his ministry was in process of gathering evidence for banning the Bajrang Dal.

Meanwhile, sources told The Tribune that there was lot of discussion in the Cabinet on the practicability of imposing a ban on the Bajrang Dal, which has been on the forefront of anti-Christian violence in Orissa. Such a ban would have to be ultimately enforced by the state and the state’s role in this regard is crucial, sources said. It was on this ground that some members questioned feasibility of the ban.

Although the UPA allies, including the RJD, the LJP and the SP have been very vocal about their demand to ban the Bajrang Dal and the Congress, too, today pitched for similar action, saying there was enough evidence to proceed, a decision in this matter is likely to be advanced at least till the National Integration Council (NIC) meets. The idea, UPA sources said, is to not politically jostle the BJP at this time but to isolate it on a broader platform.

Moreover, sources said the matter regarding banning an extremist organisation needed not come to the Cabinet at all. Such a ban can simply be enforced through notification by the centre.

The government, however, feels the need to raise the issue at the NIC first, said sources, adding that the NIC is a 103-member forum of union ministers, Chief Ministers, political leaders, heads of national commissions and eminent public figures, and can be used to gauge broader opinion of the intelligentsia on sensitive matters.

The NIC is meeting here on October 13 to discuss ways of fighting divisiveness in the country. Orissa violence will feature in discussions, so will the matter of banning the Bajrang Dal and imposition of Article 356.

Also, discussions in the Cabinet today on the imposition of Article 356 in Orissa remained inconclusive. Senior Cabinet members like external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar were absent from the meeting, which, sources said, was another reason why vital decisions on Orissa could not be taken.

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