The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has written to the Election Commission, urging it to “either anticipate or postpone” the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for April 18 as the day ‘Maundy Thursday’ is a holy day which commemorates the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples.
The CBCI, the apex body of the Catholic Church in the country, the Church was not making the request to him on grounds of religious sentiments but rather in view of the difficulties that may be faced in view of the election date fixed for April 18 in some states.
In his letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, the CBCI’s secretary general Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas said, “Christians would like to give full service to the election commission and the country but with the date clashing with the religious service of Maundy Thursday, Christians may find it difficult to fulfil both worship responsibilities and election duties.”
The Bishop further said a large number of booths are placed in the vicinity of Churches and in schools run by the Church during polls. “Given the exigencies of the mode of conduct of Elections as well, as special security needs for polling, your office also may find difficult to conduct the election as I am sure you would not like to deprive millions of Christians the opportunity to worship in their stipulated and consecrated places of worship during days which they consider most holy,” it said.
Citing these reasons, the council requested the ECI to consider the sentiments of Christians and change the polling date in the states that will vote on April 18.
The EC, a week ago, had announced that the 17th Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases, between April 11 and May 19, involving close to 90 crore voters. The results will be declared on May 23, ten days before the term of the current House expires.
The second phase on April 19 will cover 97 constituencies across 13 states in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.