Church urges to reject 'dirty' politicians

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 02 May 2002 21:55 IST

Goa's influential Church has appealed to all the Christians to reject candidates who represent communal interest, who are habitual defectors and known to have been using money and muscle power.

On the eve of the Assembly elections on 30 May, the Church has directed all its clergymen to take up a social concern campaign to create awareness among the people in this regard.

Interestingly, all the major political parties including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, have welcomed the Church directive, but to suit their own interest.

The Diocesan Service Centre for Social Action, the Church body which reacts on social issues, has asked all the priests to hold group meetings and village meetings to appeal to the voters to elect reliable candidates and not those who will betray the people once again.

The Church has also asked the priests to join hands with like-minded NGOs to encourage and support honest, fair and dedicated person to contest elections. "The people should promote a third candidate if the choice is between a communal and a corrupt one", it states.

According to BJP chief minister Manohar Parrikar, the Church letter basically targets the Congressmen since they have all the corrupt and communal persons, who use money and muscle power to get elected.

In Goa, the Congress primarily banks upon Christian and Muslim vote bank which normally does not go to the BJP. Compared to minuscule minority of around two per cent Muslims, Goa's 26 per cent Christian thus becomes the major decisive factor in elections.

While the state consists of nine constituencies totally dominated by Christians, three more have influential population and almost 12 constituencies have sizeable Christians, making it 24 out of total 40.

But it is also a fact that the Church had indirectly supported BJP MP Ramakant Angle in the last Lok Sabha polls, to defeat the Christian candidates of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party and teach lesson to the selfish politicians.

"We are talking to the Church on the issue", claims Congress observer Pradyut Guha, while welcoming the statement. He feels it will restrain people from voting the communal BJP, but refuses to comment on the appeal to reject the defectors.

The 40-member Assembly that was dissolved midway on 27 February had 25 such habitual defectors, most of whom are Congressmen. The Congress is planning to field majority of them as their 'winnable' candidates while the BJP has also fielded some of them.

Dr Wilfred de Souza, the NCP leader who was pushed down to third place in the last Lok Sabha polls, also welcomes the statement, claiming that it will help NCP's clean candidates.

De Souza's group had defected in 1998 by toppling then Congress government, to form his own coalition government, with the BJP supporting it from outside. While he later joined the NCP after '99 Assembly polls, he disagrees that his is also a group of habitual defectors.


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