Goa Church continues to interfere in politics, asks people not to vote for Manohar Parrikar

As per a report published in Gaon Connection, a magazine named Renowakao, which is run by a Panjim church Bishop’s House, carried an article which directly attacked the ruling BJP government in the centre and the state.

The article written by a local lawyer compares the current NDA government to the Nazi regime in Germany. The writer also claimed that a situation of constitutional holocaust has developed in the country. The article then asked the voters to rein in the ‘tyranny’ prevalent in the whole nation by voting against Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in upcoming by-polls.

This article comes before the crucial Panjim by-polls in Goa which are being contested by Manohar Parrikar, who has to become a member of the Goa assembly to continue as the CM of the sate. He is pitted against Girish Chodankar of the Congress and Anand Shirodkar of Goa Suraksha Manch in the polls which would take place on 23rd August.

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The article stated that freedom, democracy and secularism were more important issues than corruption, which can be interpreted as granting ‘pardon’ to Congress for their corruption. It in fact went on to say that the ‘corrupt’ should be given the power if they can ensure freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Churches in Goa interfering in party politics is not new. They had indulged in similar activities in the run up to the Goa assembly elections as well. People might wonder as to why no action is taken on the basis of the Supreme Court order, which stated that seeking votes in the name of religion, caste, race, community or language by a candidate, or by his agent or anyone with his consent, would be a corrupt electoral practice that would render the person open to disqualification.

We had addressed this point in our report about how the Congress party was choosing its candidates based on the Church’s recommendation. There is a loophole that allows the Church and the political parties to get away with this overtly communal behaviour.

The loophole is that, if in an election there are two prime candidates A and B in the fray, and the church wants B to win, it can not openly say that ‘vote for B’. But if it starts asking people not to vote for A, the effect is the same and technically it doesn’t violate the SC order. But it is very difficult to prove legally that a negative appeal against A helps only B as the defendant can innocently point out that there are other candidates too contesting for that seat and thus a negative appeal doesn’t necessarily help him or her.

The church hence has been very clever in Goa and has made veiled attacks against the BJP by following the same formula of indirectly instructing its followers to not vote for the BJP, and extending its support to even the ‘corrupt’, thus dropping enough hints about their choice.

It remains to be seen as to how the growing interference of the Church in Goa politics is contained, which might morph into a form of quasi-theocracy in the future if not contested.

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