India announces elections during Holy Week, Christians unhappy
The vote will take place over seven days, from 11 April to 19 May. Several Catholic schools will be polling stations. The bishops of Tamil Nadu write to the electoral commission to change the date of the elections that take place on that April 18, Holy Thursday.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Christians in India are "unhappy because the dates of the elections were set during Holy Week", Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) tells AsiaNews. The Christian leader reports the disappointment of the religious minority, especially in those states where their presence is more numerous.
"In Goa - he says - where Christians represent one third of the population, the vote was scheduled on April 23rd. Here the political parties compete for two seats in the Lok Sabha [Lower House of the Indian Parliament, ed]. There will be a bitter battle during the Easter Triduum, which will end at 5 pm on Easter Sunday [April 21]".
This week the Indian Electoral Commission released the general election calendar, which will be attended by about 900 million Indians. The seven dates are: 11-18-23-29 April and 6-12-19 May. The seats to be assigned to the Lok Sabha are 543.
In Tamil Nadu, continues Sajan K George, "the elections are held on April 18 and coincide with Holy Thursday. For this the Council of Bishops of Tamil Nadu has written to the Electoral Commission (Eci) to ask for a change of dates ".
Archbishop Antony Pappusamy believes that the coincidence between the day of the vote and Holy Thursday "will not be in favor of members of the Christian community" because "those who teach in public schools and government officials that will serve as polling stations will not be able to attend mass ”.
According to the bishop, another critical aspect is the fact that several Catholic schools will be polling stations, but they are located in the compound of the churches. "This is a drawback - he writes in the letter to the Electoral Commission - because during the Easter Triduum most churches organize liturgical services in the open air, in the atrium of the structure".
L Sahayaraj, deputy secretary of the Council, laments: "The polling stations in the schools run by the Church will damage both Catholics and Protestants because, for security reasons, many agents will be deployed".