Will Modi be BJP’s prime ministerial candidate? *Law needed to safeguard Church properties

May 31, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

New Delhi, May 27, 2012: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appears to have emerged as a front-runner in the faction-ridden Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its prime ministerial candidate.

Although the BJP doesn’t say so, political pundits say this much is easy to infer after the just concluded national executive meet in Mumbai.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who is known to enjoy the backing of RSS, had to bow to Modi to ensure his attendance in Mumbai by forcing out his bete noire, Sanjay Joshi, from the national executive.

And from the speeches that followed, including Modi’s own as well as his body language, it was apparent he has eclipsed the old guard.

Political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao says the writing on the wall is clear.

“His selection (as PM candidate) appears certain. There is no doubt. The signal in Mumbai is very clear. I don’t see any hurdle. He has mass appeal among the current leaders and is the most favoured candidate,” Rao, also an advisor to the party, told IANS.

“Come December (Gujarat election), the BJP will have to announce his name. It’s just a matter of time,” he added.

Agreed N. Bhaskar Rao, founder and chairman of the Centre for Media Studies: “We can’t deny the Modi phenomena. He has been perceived as one who takes tough decisions, stands by them and delivers what he promises. It is apparent he will be the future of BJP.”

Time magazine’s decision to feature Modi on its March 26 issue has been repeatedly touted by the BJP and Modi supporters as another indication of his growing appeal.

Modi aides say that Gujarat turned into a state with one of the highest GDP growth rates of over 10 percent.

His annual “Vibrant Gujarat” summits attract the biggest names in business resulting in MoUs.

His supporters say he has ensured a good business climate in Gujarat.

In comparison, there is no one of stature in the BJP. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is politically dead. The veteran L.K. Advani does not seem to command the aura that he did earlier.

Modi is reported to have asked for a post in the parliamentary board of the BJP and is said to be eyeing a key position in the national leadership.

But Modi’s path to prime ministerial hopeful won’t be easy. The biggest stumbling block is the 2002 Gujarat communal violence, an event that has forced the US to deny diplomatic visa.

Even the Time magazine caption noted: “Modi means business but can he lead India.”

And while Modi is on excellent terms with his AIADMK leader and his Tamil Nadu counterpart J. Jayalalithaa, not every chief minister, including those who are BJP allies, are enamoured of him.

This is why, says Nisar Ul Haq of the political science department at the Jamia Millia Islamia here, that Modi does not have a chance to grow nationally.

He said within the party there was resentment against Modi — in Gujarat and elsewhere — and the ghost of 2002 will haunt him.

“I don’t think there is any question of him becoming the prime ministerial candidate. He (Modi) doesn’t have national appeal. The ghost of Godhra will never go away,” Haq told IANS.

In any case, the Lok Sabha ballot is two years away. “Things can change drastically. Winds can blow in Congress favour,” he added.

But Narasimha Rao feels the old guard in the party will fall in line.

The Congress is keeping away from the Modi story vis-a-vis 2014.

“It is an internal matter of BJP. But the people of the country will decide who is secular and who is not,” Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi told IANS.

– kavita bajeli-datt, ians

Law needed to safeguard Church properties


Bangalore, May 24, 2012: The challenges some mainstream Indian Churches face today come not from outside, but from within.

A senior Church leader wants the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) to remove from its membership Churches found indulging in corruption.

“I do not know how many Churches will be left in the NCCI if such a decision is adopted,” remarked Bishop Taranath Sagar, who moderated the recent NCCI assembly where the demand was made.

The Methodist prelate’s response spoke volumes of the current state of affairs in many Churches in India.

The challenges some mainstream Indian Churches face today come not from outside, but from within.

Misappropriation of funds and illegal and unauthorized sale and lease of church properties, without accountability, responsibility or transparency, plague them.

Churches are one of the richest land owners in India in terms of real estate running into billions of rupees.

These land and properties were bequeathed by foreign missionaries, who led a life of simplicity, devotion and commitment, to create and develop such assets for future generations and for their mission and charitable work.

But today, those assets seem to be being squandered by at least a few Church authorities for their personal and selfish financial interests.

A growing body of people in the Churches and outside is now convinced that some bishops, priests and officials strike deals with land sharks and mafia, causing huge loss to the churches and to the community.

Their excuse is that such sale is to raise money used for mission work. However, vested interests in the churches corner a large portion of the money as cuts, commissions and favors.

In this light, it is only with sadness and concern that one can read about the plan of the Latin Church in Kerala to lease out part of its prime property to a private builder for a resort and shopping mall.

Are the lay people in the Church doing anything about it? According to a media report of May 9, Church officials have come to an agreement with the builder who is a member of the Church.

If churches need to raise funds, the easiest way is to sell church land. After all, the land came to them easy and without any pain or suffering.

So, where is question of any qualms or pain coming in the way of the Church leadership when they decide to sell it? The missionaries who left the land for future generations would never have imagined that what they built and preserved will be misused to such an extent that it will be all gone completely.

Court cases against bishops and Church officials involved in land scams are increasing day by day. Many such scams have come under media attention, creating a negative impression about the churches in the general public.

There are allegedly corrupt bishops in the Church of South India (CSI) who are facing cases in courts for their involvement in alleged shady deals on church properties.

There are reports of a series of cases, two of them criminal investigations, against a CSI bishop in Kerala for his role in alienating prime church properties.

Such commercialization of lands belonging to the CSI has helped generate massive illegal profits for corrupt bishops and their supporters. The land mafia in cities allegedly plays a big role in Church elections by helping the corrupt to get into power and positions.

M G Devasahayam, convener of the Joint Christian Action Council formed last year to protect the Church properties, points out that a Church trust in Chennai that initially had 105 acres of land was left with only 12 acres by 1995.

The Church is a community of believers, a movement of people consisting of mostly middle and lower middle class. They do not question or challenge the Church authorities, especially bishops, lest they invite God’s wrath.

They are interested only in their personal welfare with least concern for justice issues and this helps the Church leaders to have their way.

Are rampant corruption and greed destroying the Church foundations and making it devoid of any Christian values and principles?

Some people now begin to view it that way. Small groups of concerned Christians are organizing themselves to highlight the problems and fight this malaise in different parts of the country. Such groups need to be encouraged and sustained to build an Indian Church free of corruption and scandals.

The Indian churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have thousands of millions of rupees worth of landed properties, which are not under the regulatory control of any law.

The Christians in the pew have no say in the management of these assets. It is high time they demanded a law to protect their properties and assets, and to administer them legally as done by the Muslim Wakf and Sikh Gurudwara Acts, enacted under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.

Christians are the only major religious community in India that has no legislation to safeguard the assets that belong to the entire community.

Influential national Church bodies such as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indian and the NCCI must take the lead in convincing the country’s political leaders and the parliament to pass legislation to safeguard the interests of Christians in the country.

The Church properties and assets belong to a wider Christian community in the country and not to a handful of present-day selfish leaders and profiteers in the churches.

– ucanindia.in

Enter Google AdSense Code Here

Comments are closed.