Congress trying to force church into Meghalaya politics: BJP

Shillong: The BJP on Friday accused the ruling Congress in Meghalaya of trying to force the church into electoral politics over visa rejection to Reverend Paul Msiza to attend a religious function in the state’s Garo Hills region.

The visa application of the Baptist World Alliance leader was rejected by the Consulate General of India in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, which has angered the Christian community in poll-bound Meghalaya.

Elections to the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly will be held on February 27 and counting of votes taken up on March 3.

“The Congress has no agenda but is only trying to force the church into politics by trying to mislead and misuse the church for political reasons,” Bharatiya Janata Party Spokesperson Nalin Kohli told journalists here.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has said that the central government refusing to grant permission to Paul Msiza to attend the sesquicentenary celebrations of Christianity organised by the Garo Baptist Convention in the Garo Hills demonstrates the hidden agenda of the government against the Christians and other religious communities.

The Garo Baptist Convention is celebrating 150 years of Christianity at Rajasimla in East Garo Hills from February 8-11. The Baptist Church set foot in Garo Hills at Rajasimla in 1867.

However, Kohli said the BJP does not decide if a visa is given or not given to a person planning to visit India.

“Visa authorities follow rules set up by respective governments in every country. In India, it was the Congress that made the visa rules because they ruled the country for 55 years and those rules have to be adhered to irrespective of any community or religion,” Kohli said.

The Baptist World Alliance is a worldwide alliance of Baptist churches and organisations, formed in 1905 in London.