The archbishop of Gandhinagar has been issued a notice by the Election Commission for asking Christians to pray so that the country could be saved from “nationalist forces” ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat, which goes to polls on December 9 and 14 in two phases.
Thomas Macwan, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar, had last week written a letter to Christians in the city urging them to save the nation from “nationalist forces” as its “democratic fabric” was at stake, amidst a growing “sense of insecurity” among the minorities, PTI reported.
The appeal is being seen as an indirect call to vote against the ruling BJP in the political circles of Gujarat. Gandhinagar Collector and District Election Officer Satish Patel said that the notice was issued by the Election Commission after it took cognizance of media reports. The notice has asked the archbishop to clarify his intentions behind issuing the letter.
“We have issued a notice to the archbishop, seeking clarity over his intention behind the letter, which was widely publicised in the media. We have given him a few days’ time to respond. We will decide on the future course of action on the basis of his reply,” PTI quoted Patel as saying.
Patel added that the letter was aimed at “confusing” the voters of the minority communities and could also misguide them at a time when the poll code was in force in the state.
“We understand that the letter was an attempt to misguide the voters and confuse the minority community voters at a time when the model code of conduct is in force. Such a language should not be used,” he said.
The archbishop, in an official communique dated November 21 had appealed to the community to organise prayer services at parishes and convents, “so that we may have such people elected to the Gujarat Assembly, who would remain faithful to the Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any sort of discrimination.”
“The democratic fabric of the country is at stake amidst a growing sense of insecurity among the minorities, other backward classes (OBC), backward classes, poor etc.,” he had said. Macwan added that the results of the elections were significant and will have repercussions and reverberations throughout the country.
“We are aware that the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake. Human rights are being violated. The constitutional rights are being trampled. Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, church personnel, faithfuls or institutions,” he said.
“The recitation of the Holy Rosary at individual, community, family and parish levels will be of great help. Encourage your faithful to pray the Rosary,” he said. Macwan also gave examples about such prayers saving Europe during the victory at Lepanto, referring to the battle of 1571, in which the Holy League of Venetian and Spanish empires had defeated the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras.
The counting of votes for the 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly will be done on December 18.
(With PTI inputs)