Visa row threatens state poll backlash

February 22, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, February 22, 2018: Refusing to grant a visa to a Protestant leader wanting to visit northeastern India may negatively affect the prospects of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in next week’s state election, a leading political figure in Christian-dominated Meghalaya state says.

Vincent H. Pala, a Catholic and the state’s ruling Congress party leader was commenting on the BJP-led federal government earlier this month refusing a visa for Baptist World Alliance chief Reverend Paul Msiza to attend a celebration marking 150 years of Christianity in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills region.

“This could cost the BJP and its allies dearly” in the Feb. 27 state election Pala said, Feb. 21.

More than 75 percent of the state’s 3 million people are Christians.

The BJP holds just two seats in the 60-seat state legislature and is working with the local National People’s Party to try and garner Christian votes to defeat the Congress government, which is facing allegations of corruption.

When Reverend Msiza last visited the region he was under surveillance and was accused of violating visa guidelines and blacklisted, Pala said.

The Garo Baptist Convention was celebrating the 150-year anniversary at Rajasimla in Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills from Feb. 8-11. The Baptist Church first arrived in the Garo Hills in Rajasimla in 1867.

Another leading Catholic figure in the state who requested anonymity said the “visa denial has hurt the feelings of people who now question whether the BJP is for inclusion of all the people.”

– ucan

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