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Dalit Hindu or Christian?

George Iype in New Delhi

Is Vice-President Kocheril Raman Narayanan a dalit Hindu or Christian?

The United Front, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have joined hands to elevate him to the Presidency because he is a dalit and an erudite scholar. But the BJP's ally, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad alleges Narayanan is a Christian.

"This is a larger conspiracy of the Church to make Rashtrapati Bhavan a bastion of Christianity," says VHP president Ashok Singhal.

"Narayanan has never served the dalit cause throughout his life. He is neither a follower of Dr Ambedkar nor of Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore, it is dangerous to make him the President," Singhal told Rediff On The NeT.

To prove its claim, the VHP and the Kochi-based National Harijan Action Council have faxed a series of papers to Rediff On The NeT. Though the vice-president was born in a poor Hindu family in the Uzhavoor village of Kerala's Kottayam district, the papers allege Narayanan and his parents have always been in touch with Christian missionaries. Thus, when the young Narayanan went to study for a bachelor's degree in the Church-managed CMS College in Kottayam, it was the Christian missionaries who took care of his requirements.

The VHP and the NHAC suspect it was not luck and hard work but pure Christian connections that helped Narayanan to make it to the London School of Economics, where he took a first-class honours degree in political science.

Later, when Narayanan decided to marry, his Hindu critics allege, he chose a foreigner. His wife, whom the vice-president met when he was posted at the Indian embassy in Rangoon, is a Christian -- the VHP claims -- though she was later re-christened Usha Narayanan.

"Narayanan is a dalit Hindu only on paper. His bent of mind, philosophy of life and his life-long activities are all distinctly anti-Hindu," says Singhal, adding that the vice-president has close links with the World Council of Churches, the apex body of various Church denominations in the world. He is also alleged to have participated in one of the WCC meetings a decade back.

"The people who have relations with the WCC, which is piloting and financing the conversion of harijans, the poor and the backward classes in India, will now rally behind Narayanan," says NHAC chairman M K Kunhjol.

Kunhjol alleges the modest home of Narayanan's sister Gowri and brother Bhaskaran in Uzhavoor village looks like a "small chapel". A portrait of Narayanan and those of Jesus Christ and some Christian saints adorn the wall of the drawing room.

"We should not allow Rashtrapati Bhavan to become a playground for the anti-Hindu activities of the Christian clergy through Narayanan," he adds.

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