Sangma's 'contradicting' sentiments on Kandhamal, anti-conversion law
By John Malhotra
Sangma, who is the former chief minister of Meghalaya, is confident of winning the President poll against UPA's Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma, who is contesting the July 19 election for the office of the President, had hardly anything satisfactory or substantial to say about Kandhamal killings, massacre of Graham Staines and anti-conversion law during an interview last week.
Appearing on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate, Sangma was quizzed on his stand on the Kandhamal killings, Dang killings and the massacre of Graham Staines, oddly now that he is being backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal.
"You see this is a large democracy. India is a large democracy. Congress is the largest party, BJP is the second largest party and in such huge political parties, few incidents here and there do happen, will happen. But you can’t judge it by that," Sangma said when asked on the contradictions in the principles he claimed he was standing for.
Kandhamal witnessed large scale violence against Christians in 2008, resulting in the split of BJP-BJD after Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik blamed saffron parties for the violence. As shocking as Kandhamal was the murder of Graham Staines and his two sons who were burned alive by a mob led by Bajrang Dal leader Dara Singh.
When asked if Sangma was forgiving the BJP for such incidents, he said, I am not. “Where is the proof that the BJP has done it?"
"Don’t jump to that kind of conclusions. Don’t make such kinds of wild allegations. You see, the BJP is a political party which has ruled this country for many years and which will rule this country in the future also," he said.
Another question that was unexpectedly posed by the host of the talk show, Karan Thapar, was the anti-conversion law that Jayalalithaa had introduced in the year 2002.
"The Catholic Church of India was deeply offended by Jayalalithaa’s anti-conversion law. That affected your Church. Today you say you are proud of the fact that you have her support. I just put it to you. Is that a contradiction? Have you gone back on your principles?" Thapar asked.
To this, Sangma, a practising Christian, responded stating "forgiveness is the essence of Christianity" and Christians do not "keep things permanently"
"We try to convince other people to our point of view. The BJD and the AIADMK’s support for my candidature is going to be good for our country’s secularism," he said.
"Christianity is the biggest religion in the world. We don’t go by a small incident here or there. We have a big heart. It is a big, global organisation," he added.
Sangma, who is the former chief minister of Meghalaya, is confident of winning the President poll against UPA's Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
Sangma says God is on his side and he will win as he is standing "for principles, for democracy and for the welfare of the poor".
Amid pressure from his party to withdraw from the presidential race, Sangma on Wednesday resigned from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) that he founded with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar in 1999.
In his resignation letter to Pawar, Sangma wrote that the tribal forum of India, Jayalalithaa and Patnaik had endorsed his candidacy but his parent party had refused to. “The disinclination of NCP to endorse my candidature amounts to a denial of the aspirations of the tribals of the country,” he alleged.