Thursday, March 19, 2009
New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Varun Gandhi on Wednesday denied speaking against Muslims and claimed he was being called communal because he spoke for Hindus. “Statements that have been put in my mouth are not true,” Varun told CNN-IBN in Delhi on Wednesday after announcing at a press conference that he would not apologise for a speech he made in Pilibhit, the constituency in Uttar Pradesh where he is fighting elections. “I never made any communal statements. I went to an area in which I felt Hindus were being targeted, so I spoke in favour of the Hindu community. It is a very sad day in the Indian politics when anyone who speaks for Hindus is branded communal,” Varun told Pallavi Ghosh, CNN-IBN’s Chief Political Correspondent. “All statements that have been put in my mouth are not true. There is no question of me making communal statements and they have been put it into my mouth,” he said. “I stand for India and my legacy has always been to stand for everybody and not to just stand against anybody.” EC orders video tracking of all Varun rallies Varun, who has been booked in a criminal case for his statements, alleged the CD showing him making the speech was doctored. “Where was this CD for 15 days? Who was doctoring it? That is not my voice.” The BJP leader refused to comment whether he suspected a conspiracy but said it was clear “who stands to gain” from the controversy. Varun denied that his speech had embarrassed the BJP. “If I have not said what I have been accused of saying, then obviously I have not embarrassed anybody, including myself.” “The party (BJP) has an ideology of protecting Hindus. I have tried to protect the weaker sections of Hindus, who have been targeted by anti-nationals, by people from across the border because it is a border constituency (Pilibhit).” Asked if the controversy had become intense because of his surname, he said: “Yes, but I would like to say that I stand for the truth but what I have not said I must firmly say that I have not said it.” Midway through the interview, Varun’s aunt Ambika Shukla pulled him away. CNN-IBN has learnt that the BJP had asked Varun not to hold the press conference.
at 10:00 AM
Ex-nun's confessions set to rock Kerala Church
Thiruvananathapuram Already reeling under several controversies, the Kerala Catholic Church is facing fresh embarrassment from a tell-all autobiography written by a nun who recently quit the Order alleging harassment from superiors.
‘Amen — an autobiography of a nun’, released last week, is written by Dr Sister Jesme, 52, who was the Principal of St Mary’s College, Thrissur, till last August when she quit the Congregation of Mother Carmelite (CMC).
“Dedicated to Jesus”, Amen is explicit in its details of the sexual repression and harassment behind the Church walls as well as the draconian rules and “greed” of the Order. Jesme claims that since the book was released, she has been getting calls pledging solidarity.
“Nuns mingle with the whole spectrum of the community around them. They teach students, comfort the aged and nurse the sick; still the brides of the Church remain an enigma. My work would throw light on the misunderstood convent life, engulfed in darkness,” says Jesme.
Apart from the Abhaya murder in which a nun and priests are accused, the Kerala Church was recently in the news for a priest “adopting” a 26-year-old woman.
Jesme’s autobiography includes a poignant version by her of how the convent authorities tried to twice prove that she had mental problems and get her admitted into a rehab centre after she reportedly spoke out against the malpractices within the Order.
Starting with her first days in the Church, 30 years ago, she talks of priets forcing novices to have relations with them and the closet homosexuality within nun ranks, “which the Church reckons as the dirtiest thing possible”. “If nuns developed unusual interest in each other, authorities would deploy other inmates to watch them,” she writes.
The book says Jesme herself was forced into such a relationship by a fellow nun, and that her complaints to a senior nun were ignored. According to her, the other nun said she preferred such a relationship as it ruled out pregnancy. There were others who had affairs with priests, she writes.
Another passage in Amen deals with a chance encounter Jesme had with a priest in Bangalore while on her way to Dharwar to attend a UGC refresher course in English. “My plan was to stay at the waiting room at the Bangalore railway station. But sisters in the convent gave me the address of a pious, decent priest. When I reached Bangalore, the priest was waiting to receive me. He embraced me and took me to his presbytery. After breakfast, he took me to Lalbagh (Botanical Garden) and showed me several pairs cuddling behind trees. He also gave a sermon on the necessity of physical love and described the illicit affairs certain bishops and priests had.”
Later, when they were in his room, she writes, he stripped and made her do the same.
Jesme claims that while nuns in the lower ranks were punished if caught for even minor offences, the Church turned a blind eye to those superior or with influence for major transgressions.
Talking about the Church’s draconian rules, Jesme writes in the book that she was not allowed to go home when her father died, or to even pray some extra hours for his soul. “I was able to see my father barely 15 minutes before the funeral. The alibi of the superiors was that the then senior sisters were not even lucky enough to see the bodies of their parents.”
During her time in the Church, Jesme often ran into problems with superiors. She was called “cine nun” after she provided office facility for a film festival at St Mary’s College, leading to the first campus film from the college, as well as when she shared dais with a sex worker for the release of a book on the life of a prostitute.
Since quitting CMC, Jesme has been staying alone in a flat in Kozhikode. She told The Indian Express she was still living as a “nun”. “I go for Church mass daily and have no plans to get married.”
at 9:53 AM