Following the victory of the Hindu nationalist “Bharatiya Janata Party” (BJP) the Catholic Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in the east Indian state of Odisha expressed cautious optimism.
Archbishop John Barwa, speaking by telephone from London, told international charity Aid to the Church in Need: “The first utterances by the prime minister-designate Narendra Modi give me reason to feel optimistic. Perhaps our worries and doubts were unfounded after all. Let’s wait and see. Of course we respect the vote of the people. The BJP has won an overwhelming victory, and the expectations are naturally now very, very high.”
In the state of Odisha, which was called Orissa until 2011, serious unrest occurred in 2008. About 50,000 Christians fled from the attacks by Hindu-nationalist groups and dozens of Christians were killed.
Archbishop Barwa: “At that time the experience with BJP representatives was not particularly positive. The statements about minorities were not very friendly. Now, however, they bear responsibility for the whole country. Narendra Modi has now stressed that he wants everybody to be involved in the country’s continuing development. It would make me very happy if this were to be the case. It would then be clear that not only Hindus belong to this nation, but all the others as well, all the minorities. At the moment we have no other choice than to strengthen this hope within us.”
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries.www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS);www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)