Indian Catholic News

EC won’t act in church’s letter on saffron forces

“The appeal does not directly concern the electoral process or conduct of elections.", the commission said.

 
New Delhi: 

The Election Commission (EC) will not intervene in the matter relating to an open letter written by Nagaland Baptist Churches Association’s asking political party leaders in the Christian-majority states not to support RSS-backed BJP. The association alleged that minorities had experienced the “worst persecution” under its rule at the Centre.

“The appeal does not directly concern the electoral process or conduct of elections. It is not a violation of the model code of conduct or Representation of the People Act, 1951, both of which only restrain candidates, political parties and their leaders and governments from making appeals for votes along communal lines.

Here the appeal is by a common man and may at most be viewed as a violation of Supreme Court guidelines issued last year banning communal appeals, including those by religious and spiritual leaders.

Any citizen may therefore file a complaint or, alternatively, the district administration may suo motu take cognisance. The EC does not come into the picture, unless the aggrieved party approaches us seeking our intervention,” said an EC functionary.

The functionary said neither BJP nor its allied parties had approached the Election Commission yet. Incidentally, the full commission comprising chief election commissioner O P Rawat and election commissioners Sunil Arora and Ashok Lawasa will pay a three-day visit to Nagaland and Meghalaya starting Wednesday. Both states will go to polls on February 27.

Interestingly, the appeal by NBCC general secretary Rev Zelhou Keyho was directed at political leaders of the state who have aligned with BJP, instead of addressing the voters. However, it is seen as having the potential to influence minds of the predominantly Christian electorate.

Keyho had asked ‘believers’ not to surrender their Christian principles and faith and “sell Jesus for the sake of development”.

The appeal is reminiscent of one issued by Archdiosese of Gandhinagar Archbishop Thoman Macwan during Gujarat polls in December last year.

Source: Times of India

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