Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto’s call to the Christian community for a "prayer campaign" ahead of the 2019 general elections, stating that there was a “turbulent political atmosphere” in the country, triggered a massive controversy with the BJP terming the move politically motivated.
“We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation,” Cuoto said in a circular.
The Arbishop also requested the Christians in the country to observe a day of fast every Friday of the week.
“As we look forward towards 2019, I request that we observe a day of fast every Friday of the week by forgoing at least one meal and offering our penance and all our sacrifices for our spiritual renewal and that of our nation,” the Delhi Archbishop added.
The move to invoke the Christians didn’t go down well with the ruling BHaratiya Janata Party. Criticising the Delhi Archbishop, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi asked him to “think with a progressive mindset.”
“The PM is working towards inclusive growth without discriminating while breaking barriers of religion and castes. We can only ask them to think with a progressive mindset,” Naqvi said.
Another BJP leader and spokesperson Shaina NC termed Archbishop’s letter “unfortunate” and asked him to refrain from instigating castes and communities.
“Wrong to try and instigate castes and communities. You can tell them to vote for right candidate/party but to suggest to vote for one party and not another and term yourself secular vs pseudo-secular is unfortunate,” the BJP spokesperson said.
Reacting to the circular, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue Rakesh Sinha said that the circular was a “direct attack on Indian secularism and democracy”.
“This is a direct attack by the Church on Indian secularism and democracy, and this is a direct intervention by the Vatican as these Bishops are appointed by the Pope. Their accountability is not to India but to Pope,” ANI quoted Sinha as saying.