Over the last few weeks, BJP leaders led by party president Amit Shah have been paying visits to eminent persons from various fields as part of their 'Sampark for Samarthan' campaign in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The goal is for about 4000 BJP functionaries to reach out to almost one lakh people and tell them about the achievements of the Narendra Modi-led government.
Now, a BJP leader has demonstrated that the initiative may also be useful in building bridges to people who may not entirely approve of the current dispensation. The leader, who is also a union minister, met with an influential person who just over a month ago wrote a letter that alleged a threat to the "democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation".
The minister in question is Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Minister for Science and Technology, and the influential person is Reverend Anil Couto, the Archbishop of Delhi.
As part of the 'Sampark', Dr Harsh Vardhan briefed the Archbishop on the achievements of the Modi government, "had an inspiring discussion on the importance of promoting inter-religious dialogue for global peace", and conveyed PM Modi's good wishes.
On May 8, the Archbishop had issued the following letter:
And here is the prayer that had been called for:
The meeting does, however, come as a bit of a surprise given that at that time, Amit Shah had said about the matter: "I personally believe that no one should say things like this, for a religious person to make such comments cannot be accepted and appreciated. No one should galvanise support on the basis of religion. We are against it".
However, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has backed the Delhi archbishop and his letter:
"We respect all communities, castes, and Archbishops across the country, including that of Kolkata. I think whatever they said, they correctly said. It's a fact."