Archbishop’s prosecution demanded for “provocative” poll appeal

Archbishop Macwan’s election appeal “highly provocative and objectionable”

Ahmedabad: A legal rights watchdog affiliated to rightwing Hindu groups wants a Catholic archbishop prosecuted under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 for his “highly provocative and objectionable” remarks.

The Legal Rights Observatory (LRO), affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has moved the Election Commission against Archbishop Thomas Macwan of Gandhinagar for releasing a letter urging for prayers to save secularism from “nationalist forces.”

In a signed letter dated November 21 written on behalf of the Catholic bishops of Gujarat Archbishop Macwan urged Christians to pray for the election of humane leaders to save India from nationalist forces. The letter also urged Christians to organize prayer services so that people who are faithful to the Indian Constitution could be elected.

According to LRO, the prelate’s letter is “directly aimed at demonizing certain organizations…obliquely appealing electorate to vote against ruling BJP.”

The prelate’s letter termed the Gujarat elections, scheduled for December 9 and 18, 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.

In its formal complaint with the EC, the legal watchdog alleged a paid news angle behind the prelate’s letter. In It has also called for an inquiry and demanded action against the archbishop.

“With this complaint, I urge you to immediately take action against bishop and thwart his attempts to divide Gujarat voters on the bases of caste, creed and religion,” said LRO convenor and former RSS pracharak Vinay Joshi. As the statement is highly biased against the ruling party, paid news angle should be investigated and due action be taken against those guilty, Joshi’s complaint added.

The LRO letter accused the Catholic prelate 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.”

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,” Joshi added.


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