//Babulal Marandi's secular transformation baffles all

Babulal Marandi's secular transformation baffles all

By Indo Asian News Service

Ranchi, May 21 (IANS) From being a champion of Hindutva to emerging as an ardent admirer of Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed, former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi's sudden transformation is quite baffling.

The metamorphosis of this active Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) member, who on May 15 resigned from the post of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice-president and also its primary membership, is not entirely incomprehensible as he is all set to announce his new party to take on the BJP.

His stance against missionaries on alleged conversion drives has not only mellowed but has undergone a 360-degree change. Babulal Marandi told a local newspaper recently that the BJP's move to ban conversion was wrong.

'Every person has the right to follow his or her religion and no one should take it away,' he said.

Babulal Marandi, who began as a member of BJP's student wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parisad (AVBP) and then joined the RSS, has earlier worked in tribal areas to counter the missionaries on their alleged conversion drive.

He was reportedly rewarded with the post of chief minister when Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in 2000 for his 'good work' as a staunch Hindu.

Hinduism, however, is no longer a cause close to his heart. Almost a year ago, he became close to independent legislator Stephen Marandi, a Christian. Both the Marandis formed a non-political organisation called Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM).

The former Hindutva activist now talks about the ideologies of Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed. 'Jesus's ideology is still relevant.'

But political circles do not attribute the transformation to any change of heart. According to them, it is merely a change of his political brand.

Babula Marandi has announced his plans to float a regional party, for which he needs support from every section of society to take on the BJP and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). It is seen as a joint fight by the two Marandis who have come together after quitting their respective parties.

Stephen Marandi quit the JMM last year during the assembly election following differences with party chief Shibu Soren.

While Babulal wants to defeat the BJP, Stephen is working to banish the JMM from the state. Both Marandis have no hesitation in inviting support from other political parties.

Babulal Marandi also relinquished his Lok Sabha membership after resigning from the BJP. He said his move was to protest against the rampant corruption in the Jharkhand government and the rise in Maoist activities in the state.

Copyright Indo-Asian News Service