Furore over Cong calling Church anti-national

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 04 May 2002 21:59 IST

Goa's Church apparently means it when it appeals to the people to reject 'dirty' politicians like communals and defectors.

However, more than the allegedly communal Bharatiya Janata Party, the pro-Christian Congress is facing the music of it, as it has a 'rich treasure' of defectors.

In an attempt to counter the Church attack, the Christian community in Goa is now up in arms, demanding apology from a senior Congress leader to apologise for allegedly calling the Church communal and anti-national.

According to Gregethy Barreto, president of the Curtorim Citizens Action Committee, Congress observer Pradyut Guha called names to the Church, when a delegation went to him, demanding that former chief minister Francisco Sardinha be denied Congress ticket.

Sardinha, the Curtorim MLA for four terms since 1979, had revolted against Luizinho Faleiro's Congress government within five months - in October 1999 - to form a coalition government with the then opposition BJP.

After their 11-month old honeymoon ended, the Congress gracefully readmitted Sardinha along with few other defectors, obviously to 'strengthen' the party with habitual defectors.

"They were not parishioners, but were provoked and sent by the BJP", claimed Guha, while denying the allegation that he had called the Church communal and anti-national.

The parishioners however later even staged one-day dharna, demanding apology from Guha. Not a single Congress leader however has reacted to it so far.

BJP's chief minister Manohar Parrikar was however wise enough to fish in the troubled waters. Claiming that his party had no base in the Christian-dominated Curtorim, he said that Goa's Church is the real swadeshi Church and persons like Guha are against the interest of Goa.

"Either he should leave Goa or Congress leader Faleiro should immediately throw him out", said Parrikar. While welcoming the Church appeal, he even claims that it is targeted against the Congress since they consist of the real communal elements.


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