India: Bishop charged with violating election laws

A pro-Hindu group has filed a complaint against Catholic Archbishop George Anthonysamy of Madras-Maylapore, for allegedly trying to influence voters on religious grounds during India's current national elections.

That Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF), which is allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, wants the Election Commission of India to take action against Archbishop George Anthonysamy of Madras-Maylapore in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The forum's complaint on April 29 related to an editorial written by Anthonysamy in the diocesan newspaper. New Leaders Weekly In it, the archbishop discusses India’s current socio-political situation, but also refers to the plight of Christians and Muslims under Modi’s rule since 2014.

The forum claimed that it was an attempt to “influence voters on the basis of religion” and that Anthonysamy had violated election laws.

Christians in India make up about 2.3 percent of the country’s population of 1.4 billion people. They are mostly from poor communities and live mostly in southern states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Archbishop Anthonysamy, who is also president of the 18-diocesan Council of Bishops of Tamil Nadu, urged Christians to exercise their right to vote in a guest article in the diocesan newspaper. “Let us all vote,” he wrote, calling the election “a momentous election…a choice between two opposing ideologies.”

Editor supports Archbishop

Editor Father Antony Pancras said they stand by the content of the opinion piece, which did not violate election rules. “The archbishop is actually trying to spread the word about the suffering of the people in this country, especially the minority groups,” Pancras told UCA News on May 2.

The archbishop did not give instructions or ask people to vote for a particular party, Pancras said. Instead, he “simply appealed to people to vote as citizens.” This “is not a crime or a violation of election rules,” the priest explained. Pancras also explained that despite the complaint, the archbishop has not received any communication from the KPU.

The model code of conduct for national elections came into force on March 16 and warns against seeking or influencing votes on the basis of caste, religion and language. India’s seven-phase polling to elect 541 members to the national parliament began on April 19 and will end on June 1. The results are expected on June 4.

(can – mg)

Ambrose Fernandez

"Subtly charming web junkie. Unapologetic bacon lover. Introvert. Typical foodaholic. Twitter specialist. Professional travel fanatic."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *