In what can be seen as an attempt by the Church to influence politics, a letter from the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar, affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, has emerged, asking followers to vote against “nationalist forces”.
The letter follows a dangerous trend of religious institutions trying to influence elections on religious lines. The Supreme Court had in a past ruling, tried to limit communal politics in a bid to "maintain the purity of the electoral process".
This follows a similar move by the Church in Goa, where the church had likened the NDA rule to Nazis and called for a BJP defeat. Notably, in September this year, the NDA government had secured the release of a Catholic priest from ISIS captivity, and was subsequently thanked by the Catholic Church.
Undersigned by the Archbishop of Gandhinagar, the letter claims that “constitutional rights are being trampled” in the country, and asks for followers to vote for people who “respect every human being”. This comes in the backdrop of a global twitter movement, #ChurchToo, calling out sexual abuse in church settings which has been gaining momentum.
Users on Twitter have called out the Church’s attempt to influence the elections as a threat to national unity.
Witness the church led breaking India forces harbour against us— The Good Doctor (@Kaalateetham) November 23, 2017
These people are attacking and taking down our democracy through creation of discretionary inequitable laws like RTE but they speak opposite
Pray to Bholenath to defeat breaking India forces pic.twitter.com/OGSfLC0Zzz
Gujarat votes in two phases on December 9 and December 18, with the campaign being highly charged with active involvement of top BJP and Congress leaders. Although Christians constitute a minority in Gujarat, this sets off a dangerous precedent for other communities in the tense election environment.