The Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), a social arm of the Church in Goa, has asked Goans to reject the ‘terror of pseudo-nationalism’ and urged the citizens to teach a lesson to “corrupt defectors” and political opportunists. As per reports, the council has issued an advisory named as ‘Vote Wisely, Vote Smartly’ for the upcoming elections in the state.
It is notable here that the CSJP and the Church of Goa have been criticised before for their attempts to interfere in politics and sway voters in Goa.
Executive Secretary of the Council, Fr. Savio Fernandes, released this statement as Goa gears up for the Lok Sabha elections and bypolls for three Assembly seats.
Two Congress MLAs had resigned from the Legislative Assembly and party and joined the BJP, while Mapusa bypoll was needed due to the death of sitting BJP MLA Francis D’Souza. The elections for the two Lok Sabha seats and three assembly seats are to be held on April 23.
“Let us also give corrupt defectors and opportunists the due electoral response. Let us not be carried away by petty and trivial issues but think of the overall interest of the nation and of our state,” Fernandes said in a statement issued.
The statement by the council also took the line often taken by leftists, it read, “When rightful and timely information is denied, reports and surveys tweaked to suppress inconvenient facts, critical dissent crushed by labeling it as anti-national and as urban Naxalism, when hoodlums run riot on streets in the guise of nationalism – the defensive counter claims of ‘no corruption’ and ‘scam free governance’ become totally hollow.”
The statement also reportedly asked voters to be wary of cow-vigilantism and mentioned that Love jihad is a ‘paranoia’ while cautioning about ‘other such forms of extremism’.
Speaking specifically about Goa, the Council in its statement urged people not to vote for defectors saying that political defections were tearing the very basic fabric of democracy.
Though the statement did not name any political parties, it included an obvious reference to the government formation in Goa in 2017. The statement expressed its disapproval of the BJP government formation. It read, “Another evil is the blatant engineering of defections in violation of the people’s mandate. Moreover, persons who deceive and betray people’s trust should have no scope in democracy”.
The statement further says that every five years, citizens are given the opportunity to elect a government that will preserve the Constitutional values importantly secularism and democracy.
“All that is needed to overturn the values and principles of our Constitution is the support of a requisite number of Members of Parliament and State Legislators. The vote of every citizen is therefore very precious. Upon it hangs the future of our nation,” it says.
Without naming any political party the advisory said that there is a need for a responsible approach which would reflect on whether the basic principles of tolerance, inclusiveness, justice, transparency, and accountability are seen in public life.
The statement also discussed the press conference by four Supreme Court judges last year. It also highlighted the arrest of the alleged Urban Naxals over the Bhima-Koregaon incident and called the use of sedition laws as “A tool of erstwhile colonial powers” being used against “Critics, dissenters and pro-poor activists”.
Interestingly, the advisory also calls upon the people not to fall for “Nice candidates” as they are ultimately bound by party guidelines. It also urges voters not to fall for ‘symbolic gestures’ and trivial issues either.
Church interference in politics has been an evident phenomenon in recent times. Soon after Manohar Parrikar became the CM in 2017, a Church magazine had called voters not to vote for him in the Panjim bypolls.
The same Council For Social Justice and Peace had also made veiled statements against the NDA before the Goa assembly elections of 2017. Goa has a 27% Catholic population.
Not only in Goa, But churches in Meghalaya, Nagaland, and even the Archdiocese of Delhi have been known for their attempts to interfere in politics and sway the opinions of Christian voters against a particular party, usually the BJP and its allies, by using the pseudo-liberals’ favorite narrative of intolerance and secularism.
Before the Gujarat Assembly elections, the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar was also in the news for its blatantly communal letter to its followers where it had warned them “Nationalist forces are on the verge of taking over the country” and had stated that “The power of prayer saved Europe from being taken over by the people of another faith.”