Religion as poll propaganda Disturbing, distasteful

Unfortunate it is but that is how things seem to stand at Nagaland right now. That is pitching Christ or the Church against the Temple. Who threw the first stone is a different matter but it is extremely disturbing to see that religion is being used so non-chalantly in the run up to the Assembly election at Nagaland and in the middle of the ring are the Naga People’s Front and the BJP. The question is why should religion be used as a vote catching tool ? Defeats the understanding of Christianity and Hinduism and this is something which the people of Nagaland can definitely do without. If the RSS is not to the liking of the NPF or the people of Nagaland then let it be so, but makes absolutely no sense in going full blast against their brand of Hinduism just to catch the imagination of the Naga people. The BJP on the other hand has not used the Hindutva card, instead relying on development and the Modi effect, but this could be due to sheer political necessity, given the fact that Nagaland is predominantly a Christian State. What however is being seen at the neighbouring State is the past or the RSS brand of Hinduism in other parts of the country catching up with the BJP in Nagaland. If the RSS can use religion or more specifically Hinduism to bolster the image of the BJP in other parts of the country, the NPF is trying to use the same card, that is Christianity in Nagaland to blunt the roller coaster ride of the BJP across the Nation and more particularly in the North East with Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur already in its belt. One may understand the political dynamics at work here but yet at the same time it is extremely distasteful and disturbing to see religion being used to woo the voters.
Development, solution to the Naga political issue and a clean Government. These are the issues which should be dominating the election in Nagaland, but it is unfortunate to see that the battle of words seems to centre around religion. The Gods too must surely be disturbed to see their names being used so non-chalantly in the bid to woo the voters. Giving weight to the stand of the NPF is obviously the Nagaland Baptist Church Council, which had some time back launched a full frontal attack on the BJP, urging the Nagas not to sup with the party along religious line. This was what was distasteful and The Sangai Express has already had its say on this matter in an earlier commentary in this column. If the NPF is sincerely committed to working for the people, then let it spell out its achievement in the past 15 years, the years it has been heading the DAN Government. Such an approach can be double edged, for remember the NDPP under former Chief Minister Nephiu Rio too would have to spell out what the Government of Nagaland did for the people when Rio was the Chief Minister. The responsibility of governance, or the absence of it then should fall equally between the NPF and the NDPP, for remember Nephiu Rio is the poster boy of the NDPP-BJP combine. Such an approach will be much healthier than the present approach of using religion to woo the voters. The bottomline is, the Government of Nagaland cannot be founded on Christianity and likewise the Government of India cannot be founded on Hinduism.

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