The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Conversion brings BJP, Jaya closer

New Delhi, Oct. 7: The growing bonhomie between the RSS-BJP and Jayalalithaa has been strengthened after the Tamil Nadu chief minister pushed through the midnight Ordinance banning religious conversion by “force, allurement or fraudulent means”.

BJP sources said their appreciation did not mean the party was close to cementing ties with the ADMK and dumping the DMK, but acknowledged that the bitterness after the abortive alliance with Jayalalithaa in 1998 was a “thing of the past”.

BJP president Venkaiah Naidu praised Jayalalithaa at a function of the minority morcha here today. Urging all parties to set aside “political considerations” and support the Ordinance, Naidu said conversions often become a “source of friction”.

RSS spokesman M.G. Vaidya said:“Conversion should be due to change of conscience and not due to allurements or force. Even the Supreme Court has said that right to freedom of religion provides for propagation and not conversion.”

VHP chief Ashok Singhal termed the decree a “bold step”.

BJP sources insisted they were still doing the “balancing act” in Tamil Nadu, but said Jayalalithaa had done enough in the last six months to wash away memories of 1998-99 when she proved to be Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s main tormentor.

A BJP functionary cited Jayalalithaa’s directive to temple trusts to feed the poor daily, support for the anti-terror Act and its deployment against “LTTE sympathisers”, resurrection of Sonia Gandhi’s “foreign” origins and the recent Ordinance to show how “close” she was to the party “ideologically”.

The anti-terror Act bonding checked the BJP from coming out in defence of MDMK leader Vaiko, who was jailed by the Jayalalithaa regime under the Act for alleged pro-LTTE speeches.

“It is not as though we are about to dump the DMK. Our task is to ensure that neither the ADMK nor the DMK goes to the Congress. If the foreign origin issue is a sticking point in the way of a prospective ADMK-Congress alliance, we are also sure that the DMK will never come close to the Congress because of the LTTE’s hand in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination,” the functionary said,

The RSS made no bones about where its sympathies lay. An editorial in the latest issue of the Organiser, the party mouthpiece, berated the DMK for demanding that only Tamil should be used in temples for saying prayers and asked why it was not asking for a ban on the use of Arabic and Latin in mosques and churches. RSS sources described the BJP-DMK alliance as a “marriage of convenience” and the ADMK as the party’s “natural” ally.

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