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Good News for Christians in India's Most Persecuting State

After nearly a decade, Hindu nationalist party finally loses power in Karnataka.

Indian Christians are celebrating the result of recent elections in Karnataka, a southwestern state known for having the highest rates of violence against Christians. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party which supports extremist groups, has finally lost power "after nine years of unchallenged rule."

"The BJP is decimated," reports AsiaNews. "Its defeat is good news especially for social and religious minorities of Karnataka, victims in these years of violence and persecution of the Hindu ultranationalist groups, openly supported by the BJP."

There were more anti-Christian attacks in Karnataka in 2012 than in any other Indian state. (It surpassed notorious Orissa in 2010.) And in the days leading up to the May 5 election, Christian leaders had warned that allowing the BJP to remain in power would only lead to increased violence.

But now Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), says Karnataka is sending "a great message to all parties, in view of the general elections of 2014: We must stop the political use of religion, protect minorities and work for the common good."

An election in 2001 rattled the BJP somewhat, and CT reported that a subsequent defeat in 2004 "sent shock waves across the nation." That significant defeat came after the BJP introduced an anti-conversion law to prevent conversion among Dalits, the lowest members of Indian society, without the approval of India's parliament.

But even as the BJP consolidated its state-level power in 2005, CT reported that increased violence and repression wasn't stopping church growth.

Violence against Indian Christians reached its worst point in 2008 in the southeastern state of Orissa, following the assassination of Hindu leader Laxmanananda. However, Christians were encouraged when the BJP lost control of Orissa in elections the following year.

Meanwhile, seven Christians in Orissa remain in prison after a judge postponed their trials–again. They are accused of assassinating Laxmanananda in 2008, even though Maoists already claimed responsibility for the attack.

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