The leaders and priests of the Catholic Church and other Christian groups, strongly urge and influence the people to vote for a “secular party”.
|Religious at AZAD MAIDAN RALLY, attentively listening to the Speakers.|
As Mumbai draws closer to its polling date on April 24, confusion reigns among members of the Christian community over who to vote for.
The Lok Sabha elections found mention in the Palm Sunday mass at St Pius Church, Mulund.
Father Tarsicius Fernandes prayed, “Lord, give us your guidance in voting for the right political representatives. Lord, give our political leaders strength and wisdom.”
Fr S M Michael, chairperson of inter-religious dialogue commission of the Bombay Archdiocese, speaking at the session on political analysis for Christians at Sacred Heart Parish in Andheri (East) on Sunday said, “The main parties do not take Christians as seriously as the Muslims because we are not perceived as lacking political awareness, and not as a significant vote bank.”
According to Dolphy D’souza, former president of Bombay Catholic Sabha, Mumbai has around 1 million Christians. Of these, there were around five lakh registered voters in 2009. Around 58-60 per cent Christians voted in the last Lok Sabha elections.
In veiled messages during mass and religious-social gatherings, the leaders and priests of the Catholic Church and other Christian groups, strongly urge and influence the people to vote for a “secular party”.
In his letter to the community across India, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of the Bombay, emphasized that chief among the needs that must be addressed by hopeful candidates, are secularism and protection of rights of minorities, tribals, and Dalit Christians.
Encapsulating the community’s concerns, Gordon Dsouza, President of the Bombay Catholic Sabha (BCS) said, “Catholics are disappointed with the Congress because of inflation and corruption. However, when we try to look at the BJP as a worthy alternative, the party does cause fear among the people because it is backed by Hindutva groups and has a tainted history with minorities.”
Dsouza said, “We have been organizing ‘Meet Your Candidates’ sessions where citizens can interact with the candidates in their constituencies. We have also been trying to create awareness by sending texts and speaking in churches after the Sunday mass.”
At a local-level in Mumbai, the Archbishop has sought to raise the issue of the dwindling space for cemeteries and unreasonable land acquisition from the Church for public projects that “are normally not used for the purpose the land is acquired for.”
Source: Indian Express