Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India., Jan. 10 - A devout follower of the 'Hindutva' ideology praising Christian missionaries? A 'sanyasin' (female Hindu monk) eulogising the work and missions of Christian organisations in India? Such things will be unbelievable to any Christian in India who has heard of the horrors perpetrated on their community by the Hindu bigots and fundamentalists. But God works miracles in strange ways and makes the unbelievable believable, the impossible possible. And, this week witnessed one such rare occasion when Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, a staunch believer in the 'Hindutva' ideology and an influential BJP leader, 'sanyasin' Uma Bharti, in a rare mood, hailed the role of Christian missionaries in spreading education and serving mankind. However, she was quick to add that there should be no attempt at religious conversion.
During a meeting with the archbishop of Madhya Pradesh Pascal Topno in Bhopal, Bharti said, "Religion is an entirely personal matter and no one should be permitted to interfere in anybody's religious beliefs and faiths." She said that she was neither against Christian missionaries nor opposed to the Bible but against religious conversion. She promised all cooperation to organisations working for spreading education and welfare of tribals.
Describing herself as quite liberal in religious matters, Bharti said, "One needs to undergo conversion to be able to read the bible and respect it." She said that the state government was encouraging progressive social organisations and greater attention was being given to ensure harmony and goodwill in society.
The Chief Minister said that various programmes for water conservation and empowerment of women were being carried out in Hoshangabad, Bhopal, Sehore and Harda districts of the state in collaboration with different Christian organisations. Welfare programmes are being implemented in 30 colonies of Bhopal through Christian agencies, she said, adding that they also played an active role in relief and rehabilitation operation during natural calamities like floods.