An Open Letter To The NDA Partners

Religious leaders write to NDA partners

"Vajpayee's statement reflects Sangh wishes, not national sentiment"

New Delhi, December 19, 2000

Senior leaders of the Minority communities and Dalits have urged National Democratic Alliance partners to reject anti-minority agenda of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government. 'All secular forces, and particularly the minorities, expect you to display the courage of your convictions by walking out of the alliance that is now no longer an agency of governance, but a prison for your conscience,' the leaders said in a statement released to the Press today.

The following is the full text of the statement signed by Syed Ahmed Bukhari (Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid), Archbishop Vincent Concessao (Archbishop of Delhi), Bishop Karam Masih (CNI Bishop of Delhi), Bhagwan Das (Regional Secretary, Indian Buddhist Council, and President, , Buddha Upasak Sangh), Mool Chand (Chairman, Baudhi Publication Trust), Syed Shahabuddin (Convenor, Babri Masjid Coordination Committee), Tej Singh (National Commander, Bahujan Swayamsewak Sangh - BSS), Dr Joseph D'Souza (President, All India Christian Council), Dr Richard Howell (General Secretary, Evangelical fellowship of India), Dr K S Chauhan (Convenor, Dalit Forum for Social Change), Dr. Bhante Gyan Ratna Mahathera (Buddhist monk, Ambedkar Nagar Buddha Vihar), Dr Ambrose Pinto, SJ (Executive Director, Indian Social Institute), John Dayal (National Vice president, All India Catholic Union and Secretary general, All India Christian Council)

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE NDA PARTNERS

Dear Members of the NDA,

India's 18 per cent religious minorities, 22 percent dalits and tribals and majority of democratic citizens have heard with great shock the prime minister of India declaring in Parliament that building a Ram temple on the debris of Babri mosque is a national sentiment and an unfinished task. A large number of secular and progressive citizens from across the country have rejected Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee's statement. We citizens of a secular India hold that real national sentiment is not in sharpening the religious divide but in strengthening the unity and integrity of the nation by eschewing provocative and shortsighted politics. We are surprised that all of you, the NDA partners, have looked on silently while Mr. Vajpayee, Mr. LK Advani, Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi and the rest of the cabinet have enthusiastically propagated and implemented the agenda of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar while mocking at your common agenda of governance. You of course would realise Mr. Vajpayee's statement in Parliament only puts on record an increasingly communal rhetoric he has articulated outside Parliament from soon after assuming power. In the wake of large-scale destruction of churches, he turned on the Christians instead of castigating the Sangh Parivar responsible for the acts. In Nagpur and then in Staten Island in New York he proudly affirmed his Sangh roots and his kinship with the hate mongers of the Vishwa Hindu parishad.

And finally he chose the holy month of Ramzan to rub salt in the wounds of the victims of the 1992 demolition. While you gave him the benefit of the doubt in the anti-Christian violence and even in the RSS effort to rob the Sikhs of their identity, we are surprised that you have decided to go along with him though now there is not a fig leaf to hide his naked agenda. Many of you in the NDA have roots in strong secular movements. Do we believe that your lust for power binds you to the violent communalism and fanaticism of your leading partner Bharatiya Janata Party and its leadership? It is still not too late. The people of India want you to take courage and boldly stand up to the Sangh Parivar juggernaut. The People of India would like you to challenge the re-writing of history, the suborning of judiciary, the communalisation of the bureaucracy and the police. All secular forces, and particularly the minorities, expect you to display the courage of your convictions by walking out of the alliance that is now no longer an agency of governance, but a prison for your conscience.

Signed by: Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Archbishop Vincent Concessao, Bishop Karam Masih, Bhagwan Das, Mool Chand, Syed Shahabuddin, Bhante Gyan Ratna Mahathera Tej Singh, Dr Joseph D'Souza, Dr Richard Howell, Dr K S Chauhan, Dr Ambrose Pinto, SJ, John Dayal.

For further information, please contact:
Dr Ambrose Pinto: Phone 4622379 Fax 4690660
Mr. John Dayal : Mobile 9811021072


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