Goa parties chant "secular" mantra after Church vote appeal

Goa parties chant "secular" mantra after Church vote appeal

Goa parties chant "secular" mantra after Church vote appeal

 A recent statement by Goa Church calling upon citizens to vote for "secular" candidates has stirred up a debate in the state's political arena, where parties are trying to show their commitment to secularism.

With each party trying to project the statement in its favour, the media conferences are often found centred around secularism versus communalism discussion.

"I have read the Church circular which has appealed to the people to vote for secular parties, and we are secular," said Goa BJP spokesman Wilfred Mesquita.

He accused the Opposition Congress of "conveniently using the communal and secular words to divide the community".

Goa Church, which wields considerable influence among community members, who comprise 27 per cent of the coastal state's nearly 1.5 million population, has said that the people should vote for "secular" candidates.

In its statement, the religious institution apparently took a dig at BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, saying the Lok Sabha election campaign is titled in favour of one individual to make it look like a Presidential contest.

Dayanand Narvekar, president of newly-formed Goa Democratic Front (GDF), said the Church was right in calling for support to parties with secular credentials.

"Both the main political parties – Congress and BJP - have often compromised with democratic and human values for the sake of their own benefit," Narvekar said, adding, neither of the two parties have managed to prove its secular credentials at either at national-level or in Goa.

Goa Congress spokesman Sunil Kawathankar claimed the circular clearly indicates voters should shun the ruling BJP.

"Their recent move to induct Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik in the party was clearly aimed at compromising with secular principles," he said.

Muthalik, who was linked with the attack by his outfit on women in a Mangalore pub in 2009, was dropped from BJP within hours of his induction in the party.

Goa Vikas Party (GVP), which is not in poll fray but supporting BJP, claimed the Congress is the "most non-secular party" as they "humiliated" Catholic MLAs during their rule.

GVP chief Miccky Pacheco, a sitting MLA and former NCP Minister, alleged that he was "humiliated" by police when Congress was in power.

Goa, with two Lok Sabha seats, will vote on April 12.