10/07/2004, 00.00
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Fundamentalist Hindu parties using Gibson's "The Passion" for electoral purposes

In Maharashtra, the BJP and its ally Shiv Sena are handing out poster calendars with images of the film, in an attempt to appeal to Christian voters

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – In view of the October 13 elections for the Maharashtra Assembly, the Hindu Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are using Christian symbols and imagery in their election campaigns.  The Janata Dal (JD) party has filed a complaint with the Election Commission of Mumbai to protest against this abuse of Christian symbols by two political formations inspired by Hindutva ideology.

The BJP and allied Shiv Sena have been distributing a poster-calendar that has images of Christ from the film The Passion. Their candidate is quoted on the calendar for having said that he would not like to be like Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands of Jesus' crucifixion.

After their recent debacle in the recent General Elections held in April, the right-winged  Shiv Sean and BJP are now wooing the minority Christians for the seat in Vasai, a town north of Mumbai, home to around 80,000 Christian voters: the use of images of Christ in their campaign will doubtlessly carry weight with them

The Bishop of Vasai, Monsignor Thomas Dabre, had already voiced his concerns on rising fundamentalism and persecution against Christians, during the General Elections of May 2004.

Social activists have joined the JD in protesting against the inappropriate use of religion in the elections.  In a statement they said it was surprising that the Sena, which never speaks out against attacks on minority communities, should use a calendar showing Christ on his way to his crucifixion, during election time.

Shiv Sena is known for supporting the supremacy of the Marathi ethnic group in the state of Maharashtra.  It is this group in fact that changed the name of Bombay to Mumbai in 1999, to underscore the ethnic character of this great Indian city. Its leader, Bal Thackeray, is known for his unconcealed admiration for Adolf Hitler. (NC)

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