10/23/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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Cardinal Gracias: the victory of Congress in Mumbai, "bodes well for the future"

by Nirmala Carvalho
The party of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi confirms its mandate in state elections in Maharashtra, Arunachal Pardesh and Haryana. The cardinal of Mumbai: now we need effective policies for the poor and development programs constructed in a climate of social harmony.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "A victory that bodes well for the future." Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and Chairman of the Indian bishops, thus greets the victory of the Indian National Congress in the elections of the State of Maharashtra in comments to AsiaNews after results were announced on October 22.

The formation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi won 81 seats and is the largest party in the General Assembly of Mumbai. Similar results were also issued from voting in other states where the population was called upon to renew the local government. In Haryana Congress won 40 seats out of 90 and the party of Nehru Gandhi dynasty will have to find agreements with the Indian National Lok Dahl to govern. Instead in Arunachal Pardesh it scored an overwhelming victory with the election of 42 MPs out of 60 available seats.  

With the victory in Maharashtra, Singh and Gandhi’s party receives the third consecutive term of government in the state. For Card. Gracias "it is an affirmation of the policies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)" led by Congress and a wish "for a stable government." The archbishop of Mumbai hopes that confirmation of the ballot box will push the first party in the country to "enact development policies" announced during the election campaign and "to be more effective in interventions in favour of the poor, particularly in rural areas" .

During the election campaign, Cardinal Gracias called on Catholics to vote and to pray that a good government for the state would be the outcome of the ballot. In a letter published in the weekly Examiner he had urged the faithful to vote for candidates who respect the Constitution, are not accused of corruption and provide proof that they work selflessly for the country.  

Now that the polls are closed and the official results out, the archbishop returns to reflect on that invitation by saying that "the Church is not in favour of one political party over any other, but it is opposed to the politicians that create discord and divisions".

The defence of religious freedom, according to the constitutional mandate, is an issue that the Church stresses at every election, whether political or administrative. For Cardinal Gracias, Mumbai city is a symbol of the possibility of coexistence between cultures and ethnic groups in India. This is why he hopes that the government of Maharashtra will operate an "inclusive" policy and "promote development" and points to the affirmation of the "common good".   

"It is essential that this development is accompanied by a climate of social harmony and tolerance," said the archbishop, who points out that "the diversity of cultures and religions, represents the richness and heritage of Mumbai and the entire nation."

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