The candidate for PM that India does not need: Fr. Cedric Prakash, sj;

 

Modi’s divisive style and shady past are not good leadership qualities

 

 

  • Cedric Prakash, Ahmedabad
  • India
  • September 19, 2013

 

 

 

On September 15, two days after the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) named Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, he addressed a public meeting.

Before a huge crowd, many of them ex-servicemen, Modi said it was he who envisioned and built the 700km Kutch pipeline, which carries fresh drinking water across Gujarat state to troops stationed on the border with arch-foe Pakistan.

The three-time Gujarat chief minister said he did it out of respect for the soldiers stationed at the border. This statement was obviously greeted with thunderous applause.

But it was far from the truth.

The Kutch pipeline was initiated in 1985 by late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. In January 2001, Gujarat chief minister, Keshubhai Patel, Modi’s predecessor, inaugurated it.

By May 2003, barring a small stretch up to the border, most of the work was done. Under Modi, it was finally completed on August 16 2013, more than 10 years later.

His speech demonstrates how he simultaneously takes credit for the achievements of others and glosses over his own inactivity.

Gujarat in Western India has been one of the country’s more progressive and industrialized states. Today however, there is much hype over the so-called “Gujarat development model” under Modi, who has been chief minister since October 2001.

But these are highly manipulated statistics, since Gujarat economic data for the years preceding 2001 was even more impressive.

Gujaratis are known for their entrepreneurial skills and financial acumen. And economists tell us that Gujarat would have achieved this level of economic growth with or without the BJP; with or without Congress; with or without Modi.

In fact, under Modi, Gujarat’s social indicators are abysmal. Child malnutrition has increased; the male-female ratio is widening; the status of women has declined; unemployment and poverty in general has grown. So what is being flaunted as “development” or “good governance” is essentially a sham.

On the human rights front, Modi’s performance is poor. The killing of more than 2,000 Muslims and the displacement of several thousands more during the “Gujarat carnage” of 2002 took place on his watch. Several legal cases in which he is named as the primary accused are ongoing. The National Human Rights Commission and even the Supreme Court have stated that responsibility for the protection of those citizens was definitely his.

In March 2003, Modi introduced the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, one of the most draconian laws in India. It is clearly aimed at those who want to embrace another religion, and contravenes the Indian constitution, which guarantees Indians the right to preach, practice and propagate one’s religion.

In February 2006, at the Shabri Kumbh Mela, a Hindu religious gathering in the Dangs area of Gujarat, Modi ranted and raved against Christian missionaries and their work.

Modi has also been accused of being behind the alleged killing of several Muslim youths, in what are commonly known as “police fake encounters,” in which officials kill “armed” people in stage managed shootouts.

In a 10-page letter written on September 1, D G Vanzara, a former senior Gujarat police official who was jailed several years ago in connection with the killing of several of these innocent Muslim youths, pointed the finger directly at Modi and Amit Shah, the former state home minister. He said he and other accused policemen were following government policy.

Modi has been schooled in the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an extremist, right wing, paramilitary organization that was allegedly responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and several recent terror attacks.

The core teaching of the RSS is “Hindutva”– the formation of a Hindu nation state where minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, are accepted only as second class citizens.

There is little doubt that Modi subscribes to this Hindutva agenda which goes against the secular, democratic and pluralistic fabric of the constitution. Thus promoting Modi as a prime ministerial candidate poses a very serious threat not only to India, but also to the whole of South Asia.

Modi’s style as a politician, besides being divisive, is also authoritarian. This style does not have a place in an era where coalition politics has come to stay in India, and which emphasizes the need and importance of collaborating with political partners across the spectrum.

National elections in India are due in May 2014. Candidates who are likely to win seats are those who best represent the interests of all, particularly the poor and the marginalized.

The ‘Modi for PM’ campaign will be on overdrive in the coming months. But the people of India will vote for a party or an individual that stands for the democratic and secular traditions of the country based on justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. Modi does not fit this bill.

Cedric Prakash is a Jesuit priest and the Director of PRASHANT (Tranquility), the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace

Source: UCAN NEWS

The Gulf of Khambat is at the right-lower-cent...

The Gulf of Khambat is at the right-lower-center of the map of Gujarat on the Arabian Sea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. Isaac Gomes said,

    September 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Fr Cedric Prakash is criticising Mr Narendra Modi and has expressed his reservations on Modi’s becoming Prime Minister. He should be congratulated for speaking out his mind unlike other priests. However, if he comes to know of Narendra Modis within the priest community, how is he going to respond to that? Given below is a live situation of terrorization and marginalization of the laity at Auxilium Parish Kolkata which is nothing short of Modi Terror. This terror is being backed by the system – the Salesian Provincial, the Salesian Bishop and the Archbishop who in public forums says so many things on transparency and accountability but in practice keeps mum when his attention is drawn on violations of these principles. Please read the matter below patiently:
    The following message was sent from Kolkata to boscoreachout.org on 10th September 2013 but no response has been received:

    Dear Fathers,
    1. I just happened to get into your site and was really impressed with your thought process and activities on education and women empowerment. It is true that lack of education leaves many a talent in the periphery, denying society of individuals who are capable of becoming change-makers.
    2. But the Parish Priest of Auxilium Parish Kolkata Fr K.K. Sebastian thinks otherwise.
    3. In the Auxilium Parish News Bulletin dated 30 October 2011, Fr K.K. Sebastian, wrote: “The gift of education is indeed cure for all ills in the world. To have an education opens doors to careers and lives with dignity. The CAB Auxilium is running a good tuition centre at Auxilium Parish Church, to help Catholic students who are weak in studies. I request parents to take this opportunity for their children’s betterment.”
    4. The 5-day-in-a-week free study centre had 45 students and the number was increasing. It was being run by CAB (Catholic Association of Bengal) Auxilium Unit with the help of four teachers including Fr Joseph C. DeSouza SJ (Chemistry Hons first class) who used to come thrice in a week to teach Maths and Science subjects. We also had another maths teacher who was doing 2nd Yr Physics Hons. in St. Xavier’s College. There were plans to train students on public speaking, personality development courses, career counselling through experts on week-ends. Children were also taken for educational excursion like visit to Botanical Gardens, Science Museums etc. All the teachers were paid by CAB Auxilium from its funds created out of donations from friends, benefactors and monthly subscriptions from members. The church only provided classrooms and electricity. Fr Ajay Sardar sdb helped us a lot in taking care of the students.
    5. When we shared our plans for further development of the study centre, Fr KK remarked that we were planning to convert it into a university! We were supposed to provide only the bare minimum facilities. This means he actually did not believe in the full development of a child but only in the peripheral. He wanted students and their parents to be constantly under the bondage of sponsorship and aid. He believed in the law of minimum sustenance!

    6. In June 2012 after the May summer holidays, Fr Sebastian closed down the study centre abruptly by putting on a notice that the Study Centre would remain closed indefinitely till further notice. Parents most of whom could not afford private tuitions came to us urging us to get the study centre reopened. Ultimately a couple of parents along with CAB Members met Fr KK Sebastian on 19th June night and after a lot of argument, he gave us a letter that the Study Centre could be reopened.
    7. On 20th June 2012 the study centre reopened. After the students left at 7 pm, CAB members went for tea in a tea stall outside the church. Suddenly they were gheraod by at least 30 strongmen (local ruling party people) on bikes and threatened with dire consequences if they ever disturbed Fr KK. They even barged into our President’s home and wanted to take away his elder son saying that he had held a revolver on Fr KK’s head on 19th June night. It was a total lie perpetrated by Fr KK as when the exchange with parents took place, all the other fathers viz. Fr Robin Gomes, Fr Abraham, Fr Chandan Banerjee and Fr Stroscio were there. After the sudden attack, CAB President first called Fr Provincial but he did not take the call. He then sent an SMS of distress. Police was called and they told us to make a diary but not to include Fr KK and the party people. CAB Central President Eugene Gonsalves also requested us to spare Fr KK. We made a diary accordingly naming some of Fr KK’s chamchas (Sontu Mondol, Herman Vaz, etc) who brought in the goons. Later on some party people known to us told us that they were misled by Fr KK into attacking us. They even took us to their Head Office where we were shown a letter from Fr KK implicating us and telling them to teach us a lesson. The copy of the letter was not given to us. They only wanted to clarify their stand that they acted at the bidding of Fr KK at a charge of Rs 27,000/- for meat and drinks. We have people who will vouch for this.
    8. At 21:34 Hours the Provincial sent a curt SMS: “Dear Mr Peter, I’m surprised at ur allegation that Fr KK Sebastian has sent goondas to beat u up! If some people came to meet u & ask u what happened last night in the Parish, they came on their own. Fr Sebastian won’t do such a thing unbecoming of a priest. Please b calm & do not exaggerate!” Just one and a half hours before the belligerence by these “some people” Fr Provincial had telephoned Peter and asked him to meet him alone at Provincial House. Peter could not go as he had to take tuitions and offered to meet him on a Saturday. The Provincial declined and put the phone down. Just one and half hours after his call, the above incident took place. How did Fr. Provincial know sitting at Provincial House that some people came to meet Peter and ask him what happened the night before in the parish? How did he anticipate that these “some people” who are rank outsiders (non catholics) will question Peter and his friends (and nobody else!) on internal church matters?
    9. Fr KK also put up in the church a notice countersigned by the Provincial banning CAB Auxilium. On 3rd July 2012 the Provincial called a meeting in the presence of CAB Central President, Fr KK, Fr Siby Vadakel and others. Before the meeting took place, Fr Provincial was reminded to tell Fr KK Sebastian to remove the CAB Ban notice from the church. The meeting was held only after this was done. At the meeting Fr KK read out a long list of complaints of by Auxilium Parishioners against CAB Auxilium. Funnily enough the letter was not signed by any parishioner and a copy of the letter was neither given to CAB Auxilium nor to Eugene the CAB Central President. This was another example of the lies Fr KK can perpetrate wearing a cassock! We reminded the Provincial that Fr KK had a track record of creating problems wherever he went. 20 years ago he created a similar problem in our parish and local ruling party had to intervene for his removal. We asked the Provincial why such a dangerous man who tells that politics in church is a must was sent to our parish. He did not answer. We also told him because Fr KK was bringing ruling party people to mortally threaten upright parishioners, he did not have any right to be called a priest and that he should stop wearing the cassock. Anyway, matters were brought under control. KK was sent to 40 day rehabilitation programme at Bengaluru and came back. In November 2012, Fr KK sent a letter with baseless allegations to the new CAB President, Alexander Anthony, requesting him to disaffiliate all the office bearers of CAB Auxilium and let him appoint a new body. Alex listened to him blindly, bent all rules to suspend CAB Auxilium President and also disaffiliate the whole elected unit. In January 2013 Fr KK and Alex appointed an ad hoc CAB Auxilium Unit Committee, again defying CAB Constitution, in place of the elected unit. In March 2013, through Fr Abraham he informed Fr Joe Desouza not to come to the study centre anymore as it would be handed over to a new management. It was Fr KK who requested Fr Joe DeSouza to come and teach at the Study Centre and this was a classic Salesian example of treating a fellow priest! After this the study centre was closed down and all CAB’s activities in the parish came to a standstill. The study centre has been reopened but only from students of Class V-X and is being run by the Ad hoc Committee. Most of the children are complaining to us that the standard of teaching is very poor but they are being forced by Fr KK to attend otherwise he would stop sponsorship and letters of recommendation! So this is what Fr KK Sebastian is doing – arm twisting of parishioners at every opportunity – in the name of Don Bosco who was a great lover of youth.
    10. We informed Salesian Provincial and the Archbishop of all the matter. We even met the Salesian Bishop Rev. Suren Gomes. Even a petition signed by 250 parishioners was submitted to Archbishop asking for Fr KK’s Removal. But as there was no response from any authority and Fr KK kept on issuing renewed threats, took away the teaching job of Mrs Mary Dhara (since she was a CAB Auxilium member) and the sponsorship of Riya Kanral and Priya Mondal (college going students), we had no choice but file a suit against Fr KK, CAB President, Fr Provincial and Sr Caterina Principal of Auxilium School. The suit is on at Sealdah Court.
    11. This is for your information. If you do not do anything about Fr KK, one bad apple will spoil the whole Salesian community. You may check our grievances with Fr Robin Gomes and Fr Ajay Sardar.
    12. We are willing to cooperate with you in Kolkata on educational, SHGs and Women Empowerment.
    13. We would also request you to have in place an in-built system of keeping a tab on a priest’s performance and especially behaviour of priests all across India. Otherwise, things might escalate as it has happened in case of Auxilium Parish.
    Regards and all the best
    Isaac Gomes
    Email: isaacgomes@hotmail.com

    PS: There is no scope for attachment. Otherwise we could have sent some documentary evidence.
    Fr K.K. is the kingpin of Loreto Lucknow Sept 2006 case. He is also involved in a huge land scam at Hatgachia (on E.M. Bypass – Park Circus Connector) where with Italian donation of Rupees One Crore he bought farmland without proper title deeds in 1992. He built 150 houses (single-storey with shared toilets and well-water) for Catholics in the area. In 1993, the KMC demolished almost all the houses saying they were built on KMC land. Fr KK dragged Mother Teresa from her sick bed and stopped total demolition. Later on KMC gave a proposal that it be given half the land and on the other half it would help rehabilitate all families by building up. The Salesian community sat on the proposal. There was fresh threat of eviction. Fr Bertie Fernandez filed a suit against the KMC. After his sudden transfer, Fr Jose Pellissery entered into a negotiation with land sharks and got a compensation of Rs Five Lac for each house. Thus 50 houses were displaced in this manner and the land was converted into a huge commercial exhibition centre called Milan Mela. The balance households are counting their days hoping for higher compensation through agents appointed by Fr KK. So he gets commission along with his agents. Ultimately, the whole settlement would be emptied without any trace of Catholics. This would mean the investment of Rs One Crore from Italian donor shown as Catholic Housing Scheme would be reduced to ZERO. How could a priest aided and abetted by Salesian Honchos play with the lives of so many Catholic families? Had the land been occupied by the Muslims do you think any government would have touched it? If the land papers were not correct, then who ate up all the money? On the web site Auxilium Parish is touted as a place of International Pilgrimage, whereas inside it is rotten and full of hypocrisy. Don’t you think playing with catholic lives by Salesian priests is more criminal than the acts of Narendra Modi? Don’t you think a thorough cleansing of the parish is required?

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  2. Cedric Vaz said,

    September 24, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Fr. Cedric Prakash S.J. should refrain from making political comments and also siding or opposing politicians, as this act of his could incite communalism and spread religious hatred. This often leads to death and injury of innocent citizens while politicians and religious leaders remain unharmed. Fr. Cedric Prakash , being a Jesuit, knows very well that Church and State are not the same like in medieval times and today they are completely different entities. Being a priest he should not meddle into politics but concentrate more on his priestly duties in church and render education and social service to the Catholic community !

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