World War II hero’s daughter reach out to Christians in NE ahead of assembly polls in 3 states
Elizabeth Matthews Nongbri

Guwahati: Despite improving its performance in Christian-majority states, the BJP continues to be seen as a primarily Hindu party with only token representation for India’s minorities. Party leaders going out of their way to demonise other faiths, calling those who convert to Christianity rice bag converts, and party cadres attacking Christian places of worship do not help matters, of course.

But Elizabeth Matthews Nongbri, the daughter of a World War II hero, believes BJP is misunderstood and that the party, which declared Good Governance Day on Christmas, the holiest day for Christians, is not “anti-Christian”.

Elizabeth Matthews Nongbri (second from right) interacting with BJP supporters in Guwahati

Nongbri is more than aware of the questions raised by non-BJP people, and she knows how to tackle them. When asked about the attacks on Christians in Assam and Manipur, she carefully deflects the question by saying: “I will raise these issues in our party platform.”

She also chose to not answer why Christmas was declared Good Governance Day by the Modi government.

But all this has not stopped Nongbri from reaching out to Christians and church leaders of Northeast India ahead of assembly elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.

Elizabeth Matthews Nongbri (in purple) during her campaigning in Meghalaya

Tripura goes for polls on February 16, while Meghalaya and Nagaland will vote on February 27.

The BJP is a marginal player in Meghalaya but boasts of a strong presence in Nagaland.

Nongbri, the national executive member of BJP Minority Morcha, is currently visiting Meghalaya to reach out to Christian leaders in two poll-bound states. She will also visit Tripura and Nagaland to convince the Church leaders that BJP is not “anti-Christian.”

Elizabeth Matthews Nongbri in Sohra, Meghalaya

In her letter to the Church leaders, Elizabeth said: “BJP is an inclusive party and does not suppress anyone on (the) basis of religion. Visible progress and improvements have been noticed in the country in eight years of BJP governance. There is a tangible improvement in the lives of the common citizen which is very clearly visible. These are wide-ranging, covering all aspects of our life, and enumerating them here would detract from the main purpose of my message.

“I hold the appointment of a national executive member, BJP Minority Morcha and in charge of Mizoram. My husband is a veteran Colonel from the Assam Regiment. My late father, John Matthews, was from Norfolk in the UK and my late mother, a Khasi, from Meghalaya. I too have been raised in the Christian faith,” she said.

“I am aware of the strong influence that the Church has over social life in Meghalaya. The Church and its associated bodies have only done well for society. Today, the Church has made tremendous progress in the fields of education, social reform, health care, women’s empowerment and charity. In every sphere, the Church by its selfless service has brought progressive changes in society, all for the common good,” Elizabeth said in her letter to Church leaders.

Elizabeth Matthews Nongbri outside the BJP headquarters in Meghalaya

“There are a number of misconceptions about the BJP, the main one being that they are a Hindu party, and will not allow other religions to flourish in the country,” she said, adding, “I wish to dispel these misconceptions in a few brief points. Christianity is the most widely practised religion in the world and is about 2000 years old. Hinduism is at least 5000 years old. 21 nations in the world have officially declared Christianity as their state religion and 27 others have officially adopted Islam. A slim majority of countries have no official or preferred religion.

“We are probably the only nation to have declared in our constitution that we are secular. A country’s official religion is primarily a legacy of its history. Hinduism, which has been our historical legacy, has been trampled, victimised & desecrated under 1000 years of subjugation by Islamic rule, and for 200 years under British rule. The horrors of this victimisation on society, culture and religion, are too numerous to recall,” she also said.

“After independence, the political class continued to suppress the Hindus to gain votes and remain in power. So now, by reviving Hinduism the BJP is only rectifying a great historical wrong. Is that not right,” she questioned.

“Restoring the pride and preservation of ancient culture is as vital as a progressive development. Some elements in political parties find an easy way of mobilising people by appealing to their religious sentiments. This is much easier when the population is large and relatively poor,” Elizabeth said.

However, the BJP has strongly been advocating only secular values, Nongbri said. “Our PM leads a progressive party, a party for the future, intent only on development; transparent functioning; emphasis on work culture; use of technology; responsibility & accountability,” she added.

“I would make a humble appeal to all respected Church elders. Please look at the big picture the BJP has in mind for our Nation. Have faith. The party is working for all of us jointly. Corruption has been deeply rooted in our psyche for millennia of subjugation. It cannot be eradicated in a few short years. But it is happening, and the change is gradually visible,” she further said.

“We hope to build a strong prosperous nation, where every citizen lives without fear, is free to exercise his choice of religion, place of stay, employment, freedom to express his thoughts, a roof over their head, quality education and a life of honour and dignity,” she added.

“We hope to build a strong prosperous nation, where every citizen lives without fear, is free to exercise his choice of religion, place of stay, employment, freedom to express his thoughts, a roof over their head, quality education and a life of honour and dignity,” she added.

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1 Comment

  1. What would Christ have said about ‘Christians’ who, for example, seemingly unconditionally support superfluously wealthy politicians who have done nothing that remotely resembles Christ-like conduct?
    Genuine Christians really need to loudly call out the denominations that abominably ardently support such men and non-Christlike causes.

    I, a believer in Christ’s miracles, am talking about Jesus through his teachings and practices, not pragmatism, politics or conservative/liberal goals. Really, can anyone seriously imagine Jesus rolling his eyes at extreme politicians and ideologies, and then sighing: ‘Oh well, I’m against everything the man stands for, but what can you do when you dislike even more some of what his political competition stands for’?

    Jesus, though no pushover, fundamentally was about compassion and charity. His teachings epitomize the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly gratuitous wealth in the midst of poverty. He clearly would not tolerate the accumulation of tens of billions of dollars by individual people — especially while so many others go hungry and homeless.

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