11/27/2017, 14.01
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Gujarat Election Commission accuses archbishop of generating “fear”

by Nirmala Carvalho

Archbishop Macwan challenged over his pastoral letter of last week about Gujarat’s upcoming election. The complaint came from the Legal Rights Observatory, which called for "immediate action". In the letter, the prelate invited people to vote in accordance with their conscience.

Gandhinagar (AsiaNews) – The Gujarat Election Commission served a notice to Mgr Thomas Macwan, archbishop of Gandhinagar, asking him to explain the pastoral letter he issued last week about the upcoming elections, The Indian Express has reported.

Gujarat is a "model" state for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which fears a defeat in the upcoming elections.

In his letter, Mgr Macwan appealed to the Christian community to vote in accordance with their conscience, reiterating that the Church does not side with any candidate or party but urges voters to "pray for good leaders”.

The notice, served through the District Election Officer of Gandhinagar, calls on the Archbishop to explain why his appeal should not be viewed as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

Officials said the action was taken on a complaint received by the Election Commission of India (EC) from the Legal Rights Observatory, which sought "immediate action" against the archbishop, saying that his public letter was an attempt to "generate fear" among voters to "divide people on the basis of caste and creed".

The letter was “sent to the Christian community to pray,” said the archbishop in his response. “We can always pray for good humans to be elected as leaders.” It was not “issued with any malicious intention to harm anyone."

Gujarat’s elections will take place in two rounds on 9 and 14 December.

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