Anti-Church article in BJP magazine shows split in Sangh Parivar

An article alleging sexual exploitation of nuns in Catholic Church has boomeranged on ruling BJP's mouthpiece Charaiveti, causing heads to roll and bringing to the fore mutual recrimination within the Sangh Parivar.

The periodical's editor has been sacked and the entire body of Pt Deendayal Vichar Prakashan changed except its president Sumitra Mahajan, a BJP Lok Sabha member from Indore, but the fallout has nothing to do with the controversial article.

Headlined "Church ke nark me nun ka jeevan'', the piece carried in the April issue had angered the minority community, and it sought action against editor Anil Soumitra and the monthly, printed in the state BJP headquarters in Bhopal. While the police did not register any case, the controversy exposed differences between Soumitra, an RSS activist, and publication's secretary Hitesh Bajpai, who is in-charge of BJP's media cell.

Both accused each other of minting money in the publication's name by taking government advertisements and by committing other financial irregularities. Both denied charges and blamed each other for mudslinging.

Soumitra was summarily sacked and the entire committee was replaced with new members except the veteran BJP MP, who has been the president for last three years.

"I have been treated like a criminal. I was selected as editor due to my RSS background and ideological commitment,'' Soumitra said in a letter to Mahajan asking if he had been removed at the instance of Christian organisations or the Congress party.

The editor of 18 months has marked copies of his letter to top RSS functionaries Mohan Bhagwat, Bhaiyyaji Joshi and Suresh Soni, BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, L K Advani and state leaders including Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, hinting at a larger power struggle within the party.

The sacked editor alleged that the publication committee did not meet even once in last three years, did not audit its records or filed income-tax returns, and wondered why Bajpai was only replaced, not penalised. "Does the BJP reward those who commit irregularities and, don't carry out their responsibilities?'' Soumitra asked and added that two more articles about the Church in its December issue went unnoticed. He said he was branded as 'Prabhat Jha's man' (former state president and currently national vice-president), and wanted to know at whose behest Bajpai was operating.

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