Indian Catholic News

Priests’ campaign fails to help BJP in Nagerciol

Since the 2014 election, some priests have been supporting the party in the area.


Some Catholic priests actively supported and campaigned for BJP’s M. R. Gandhi, but he has lost in the Christian stronghold Nagercoil constituency of Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu.

BJP lost to DMK-Congress alliance for a margin of around 21, 000 votes, but received about 1,000 votes more than the sitting MLA from ADMK.

Two weeks ago, as temperatures soared and weary campaigners tried to sharpen their pitch, Nagercoil residents spotted Roman Catholic priest from suburban Chennai, Father David R Thomas, campaigning for BJP candidate M R Gandhi.

Since the 2014 election, some priests have broken ranks to back the Hindutva party, going against the Church's diktats.

Catholic priest Father Valeriyan of Kanyakumari had told TOI a few days before the elections that this time there would be no 'secret' communication to the congregation or directive as to which party they should vote for.

"A few days ago, notices were quietly passed around regarding the Roman Catholic Church's preference for the DMK-Congress alliance," said Father Valeriyan.

In Madurai, TN Bishop Council President and Archbishop, Anthony Pappusamy had announced they had decided to support Congress and DMK to back secular and democratic values.

However, in the border district of Kanyakumari, a BJP pocket borough, the party had gained support from an unexpected quarter - sections of the Roman Catholics and the Pentecostal congregation.

The district dominated by Christians and the nadars (OBC) has seen parties fielding mostly candidates from these groups for assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The Christian voters in the district, with six assembly constituencies, backed Congress in the past. And being a communally divided district, BJP has won in Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat whenever Christian votes have split.

With Union minister and senior BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan winning from there in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Kanyakumari has now been tinged with the saffron ideology.

"When I needed a passport, Pon Radhakrishnan helped me get one. So, now, I campaign for him every election," said pastor T Clarat, called 'kadavulinmanithan' or 'messenger of god' by members of Pentecostal faith.

Source: Times of India

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