Such conflicts come in contrast to the common ground that Christians and communists in India share: not only a united defense against the ideological enemy of Hindu nationalism (Hindutva), but concern for the poor.While defending themselves against Hindutva forces brings Christians and communists together at the national level, said Dr. John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union, he noted that “both Christians and communists serve the poor and the marginalized.”The Left front parties, which lend external support to the ruling federal coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), are believed to be behind the nomination of India’s president, Pratibha Patil, who is known for her stand against “anti-conversion” laws brought in by Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Hindu extremists commonly cite such laws to harass Christians with false charges of “fraudulent conversion.”Patil, former governor of Rajasthan state, rejected an anti-conversion bill passed by that state’s legislature, ruled by the BJP. She first returned the bill in April 2006, saying it was unconstitutional, and when the BJP resent the bill to her later in May 2006, she sat on it until she referred it to the president on June 20, 2007. The next day, she resigned as governor to run for president.Communist parties decided to support the Congress Party-led UPA because of its secular image and opposition to the Hindu extremist BJP. Secularism in India means equal treatment of all religious communities and affirmative action for their weaker segments, as opposed to detachment of religion from the state, as in the West.The four main parties of India’s Left front are CPI-M, Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party and All India Forward Bloc, which together have 59 members in Parliament.Communists in 2005 also introduced an education policy regulating religion in West Bengal, another state ruled by a Left front.Then-state education minister Kanti Biswas made it mandatory for missionary schools affiliated with the primary and secondary boards of education to follow government rules in appointing Christian heads if they wished to continue receiving state funds, reported The Telegraph on October 4, 2005.West Bengal has 515,150 Christians out of the total population of 80.1 million, according to the 2001 Census of the Government of India.Communists also rule the northeastern state of Tripura, but no steps to regulate minority-run institutions has been taken. Legislative elections in Tripura are underway with the Congress Party as the main opposition. Results are expected on Friday (March 7).There are 102,489 Christians out of the total population of 3.1 million in Tripura, according to the 2001 Census of the Government of India.