John Dayal, is a campaigner for human rights. Formerly a journalist with the Delhi edition of the Mid-Day, he has gone on to found and preside over the ecumenical All India Christian Council and United Christian Forum for Human Rights. Dayal was awarded the Maanav Adhikaar Paaritaushik (Human Dignity Award) in recognition of his services in the field of human rights. The All India Christian Council has refrained from commenting on the Manifestos of various political parties in General Elections 2009, or on statements of their leaders. The Council however can no longer maintain its silence after reading newspaper reports of former Deputy Prime Minister and BJP leader Mr Lal Krishan Advani’s mixing of religion in politics, first in the Election manifesto of the party, and then in his letter to heads of various Mutts, or abbeys of Hindu sects, and arch communal advisors of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. These twin acts are fraught with dangerous consequences for peace and harmony in secular India. The electoral environment has already been vitiated by hate speeches and communal propaganda. Mr Advani may have made his moves as an electoral strategy. But coming from an important party and its prime-ministerial candidate, they collectively expose the BJP’s appeasing an extreme section of the community, as well as those organisations which have been directly involved in violence against religious minorities in Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states in the past, and Karnataka and Orissa in the present. This is coupled with the fact that Mr Advani’s BJP, which pilloried the Congress for backing politicians suspected of fomenting violence against Sikhs in 1984, has in 2009 given tickets to people such as persons in Kandhamal, Orissa, as M Pradhan who is in jail in on charges of mass murder of Christians. The Election Commission’s notice to BJP Lok Sabha candidate Ashok Sahu, and an Rs 50 Crore criminal suit against him for spouting hate against Christians which could again trigger mass mob violence against the micro minority, is proof of the party’s playing the communal card in the elections. It is not surprising that neither Mr Advani nor his party manifesto even make a passing reference to Kandhamal carnage and to the trauma suffered by the Christian community. Neither does he offer any hope to Dalit Christians in their long struggle for their just rights. Mr Advani’s `Shashtang pranam” or greetings from a prostrate position of humility and reverence, may be a figure of speech, but is symptomatic of his party’s capitulating absolutely to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and its daughter organisations. As a leader of national stature, a former deputy premier and with hopes of leading s secular nation at a future date, he should have maintained a distance from groups of people whose “advice” and active participation in Dharam sansads, or religious parliaments in the past were major contributory factors to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and subsequent national tragedy of long drawn communal bloodshed. Once again, in his letter, Mr Advani wants to set up mechanisms to be guided by their advice. As a secular democratic republic and not a theocracy, India has a separation of religion and State, if not in the western sense then certainly in neither government nor religion meddling in each other’s affairs. Mr Advani promises to reverse this trend. Religion has its place not at the levers of power, in State mechanisms or as political engine, but as a conscience keeper on civilisational issues and ethics. The Christian community certainly, even through its own Canon laws and other denominational mechanisms, gives religious heads powers to guide the flock on issues of faith, morality, dogma and doctrine, but leaves it categorically to the lay citizens, the community at large, to take part in national life, ideological issues and political affairs guided by their own reason on matters of security and the welfare of their brothers and sisters. This is why the Christian community does not believe in floating political parties of its own, but banks on democratic processes and forces to protect its rights and Constitutional guarantees. The All India Christian Council has no comments to offer on the BJP’s right to pack its manifesto’s preamble with its own construct of India’s past. We are also familiar with the thesis of Hindutva. But the Council reads into the BJP’s so called offer of a dialogue with the Christian community nothing short of reopening issues settled in the long and learned debates of the Founding Fathers of modern India in the Constituent Assembly after which they enshrined in the Constitution the fundamental rights of Freedom of Religion, to profess, practice and propagate one’s faith. That is a sacred right, and cannot be negotiated if India is to retain its plural culture and its secular and democratic integrity. The party’s pillorying of State mechanisms for minority security, including the Ministry for Minority Affairs and national commissions, howsoever impotent they may have been in the past, cannot but beget apprehensions in the community. The party’s own record in subverting Human rights and minority commissions in States that it governs shows the scant respect it has for such institutions. Mr dayal has agreed to share some of his stuff exclusively on DFI , we thank him for that.