A fortnight before people in Gujarat will vote to elect a new Assembly for next five years, the politics of polarising electorate looms large over the state.
Today, the Archbishop of Gandhinagar issued an appeal to Christians across the state to exercise their franchise in elections to defeat the ‘nationalist forces’. Though he did not name any party, political observers say that it was an indirect appeal for not voting in favour of the ruling BJP.
A letter, dated November 21, carries the signature of Archbishop of Gandhinagar Thomas Macwan and it states that the Christians are aware that the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake.
“The dates of Gujarat Assembly have been announced. The results of this election are significant and it will have its repercussion and reverberation throughout out beloved nation. It will influence the future course of our country,” it reads.
“We are aware that the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at take. Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, church personnel, faithful or institutions,” it further reads.
The letter also mentions that there is a growing sense of insecurity among the minorities in the country.
“There is growing sense of insecurity among the minorities, OBCs, BCs, poor etc. Nationalist forces are on the verge of taking over the country, The election results of Gujarat Assembly can make a difference,” it reads.
It also requested the people of Gujarat to organise prayer services “so that we may such people elected in the Gujarat Assembly who would remain faithful to our Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any sort of discrimination”.
The appeal has now triggered a major controversy with the Congress targeting the BJP.
The party, which is out of power in Gujarat for more than two decades, accused the saffron party of promoting terrorism in the name of nationalism.
On the other hand, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya suggested the spiritual guru to stay away from politics.
“These things are not acceptable when the state is going to polls. This could be a well planned strategy… this is an attempt to divide people,” he said.
The western state will go to polls in two phases on December 9 and 14. Counting of votes will take place on December 18.