Gujarat Bishop Asks Faithful to Pray for Humane Candidates; RSS Moves EC

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Advice from church gives new dimension to Gujarat politics

Abdul Hafiz Lakhani | Caravan Daily
AHMEDABAD — After Hindu-Muslim polarisation, which has affected Gujarat for many years, now Church politics makes an entry into the state ahead of this Assembly election.
The Archdiocese of Gandhinagar, Archbishop Thomas Macwan, has released a signed communiqué urging the believers to “save secularism” and India from the “nationalist forces”, which are on the “verge of taking over the country”, on November 21.
An RSS-affiliated Legal Rights Observatory (LRO) has moved the Election Commission (EC) against Archdiocese of Gandhinagar and Archbishop Thomas Macwan, for releasing thecommuniqué.
In the signed letter Archdiocese of Gandhinagar Macwan has urged Christians to pray for “humane leaders to save India from nationalist forces.”
The letter on behalf of all Bishops of Churches across the state has urged Christians to organise prayer services so that people who are faithful to the Indian Constitution could be elected.
“The Bishops of Gujarat state request you to organise prayer services in your parishes and convents so that people, we may have people elected Gujarat State Assembly remain faithful to our Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any discrimination,” said the letter signed by Macwan.
The communiqué termed Gujarat elections as ‘significant’ for the future of India. Without mentioning the name of any political party, the letter, however, urged Christians to pray for the defeat of nationalist forces.
Though no party has been named, yet the allusions to BJP and RSS are more than obvious. LRO has lodged a formal complaint with the EC, alleging a paid news angle behind the communiqué released on November 21. In the letter, the rightwing legal body has called for an inquiry and have demanded action against the priest.
“With this complaint, I urge you to immediately take action against the Bishop and thwart his attempts to divide Gujarat voters on the basis of caste, creed and religion. As the statement is highly biased against ruling party, paid news angle should be investigated and due action be taken against those guilty,” said the LRO convener and former RSS pracharak, Vinay Joshi.
While the communiqué referred to atrocities on the poor, OBC and minorities and claimed that Constitutional rights were being violated in the current regime, the LRO letter accused the priest of trying “his best to generate fear among voters”, apart from trying “to divide voters on the basis of caste and creed” and “spreading the rumors to create clashes between various social groups and also making baseless allegations against Nationalists Forces”.
Calling the remarks “highly provocative and objectionable” which “directly aimed at demonising certain organisations..obliquely appealing electorate to vote against ruling BJP”, LRO now wants Macwan to be prosecuted under the Representation of the People Act-1951.
The priest had also asked Christians to pray for divine intervention, and as Gujarat elections “could make a difference”. The communiqué also urged the people to select and vote for candidates who would uphold the Constitution and safeguard people against discrimination. Earlier, the same LRO had lodged another such complaint with the EC during Goa elections against Goa Catholic Bishop’s magazine under RP Act 1951.
“While studying the matter of indulgence of Catholic Church and other Christian bodies in electioneering in India violating RP Act 1951, I have come across several instances and I shall be bringing them in front of the Election Commission,” said Vinay Joshi.

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