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Parrikar's 'culturally Hindu' comment gets Catholic flak

Panaji, Sep 14, 2013, (IANS) 18:28 IST
Manohar Parrikar. File Photo.
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's statement last week about Goan Catholics being "culturally Hindu" has caused Francisco Pacheco, whose regional party supports the BJP coalition government, to react sharply Saturday.

"We are all human beings. Who is what, whether he is Hindu, Muslim, Catholic culturally does not matter," said Pacheco, a legislator from Nuvem legislative constituency.

Pacheco, the head of the Goa Vikas Party (GVP), said he did not agree with what Parrikar had said in an interview to India Ink, the online India section of the New York Times.

"India is a Hindu nation in the cultural sense (Hindus are 82 percent of the population). A Catholic in Goa is also Hindu culturally, because his practices don't match Catholics in Brazil (a former Portuguese outpost like Goa); except in the religious aspect, a Goan Catholic's way of thinking and practice matches a Hindu's," Parrikar had said in the interview published in question-and-answer format.

"I do not agree with the statement," said Pacheco, a Roman Catholic, addressing a press conference Saturday.

Parrikar's comment triggered controversy, especially because Catholics were seen to have voted for the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) during the March 2012 elections, putting an end to the eight-year Congress regime in the state.

Catholics account for a shade less than 30 percent of the state's population and are a key vote bank.

Pacheco's Goa Vikas Party has two legislators in the 40-member state legislative assembly.

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