The archbishop who urged Christians to pray against the nationalist forces ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections has been slapped with a notice from the Election Commission of India.
Issuing a letter addressed to Christians, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar, Thomas Macwan, had last week urged the members of the community to save the country from "nationalist forces" as its "democratic fabric" was at stake, amidst a growing "sense of insecurity" among minorities.
The 182-member Gujarat Assembly will go to polls in two phases - on December 9 and 14. The counting of votes will be taken up on December 18.
In Gujarat's political circles, the appeal was seen as an indirect call to vote against the ruling BJP.
Gandhinagar Collector and District Election Officer Satish Patel said the Election Commission issued the notice after taking cognizance of media reports and asked the archbishop to clarify his intention behind issuing such a letter.
"We have issued a notice to the archbishop, seeking clarity over his intention behind the letter, which was widely publicised in the media. We have given him a few days' time to respond. We will decide on the future course of action on the basis of his reply," Patel said on Sunday.
He said that the letter seemed to be aimed at "confusing" the voters of the minority communities and misguiding them when the poll code was in force in the state. "Such a language should not be used," Patel said.
Call for prayers
In an official communique dated November 21, Macwan had appealed to Christians to organise prayer services at parishes and convents, "so that we may have such people elected to the Gujarat Assembly, who would remain faithful to the Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any sort of discrimination".
"The democratic fabric of the country is at stake amidst a growing sense of insecurity among the minorities, other backward classes (OBCs), backward classes, poor etc.," he had said.
"The results of this election are significant and will have repercussions and reverberations throughout our beloved nation. It will influence the future course of our country.
"We are aware that the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake. Human rights are being violated. Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, church personnel, faithful or institutions," he said.
"The recitation of the Holy Rosary at individual, community, family and parish levels will be of great help. Encourage your faithful to pray the Rosary," he said.