Prayer against Rijiju:Christian body asked to apologise

Prayer against Rijiju:Christian body asked to apologise

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju

Hours after BJP leader and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju expressed anguish over a prayer petition by a Catholic association to vote for his opponent, the chief electoral office, Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday directed the association to withdraw it with an apology.

Rijiju, who is contesting in Arunachal West Lok Sabha seat had posted a prayer petition of Arunachal Pradesh Catholic Association on Sunday morning that appealed all their members to pray for Nabam Tuki’s victory and vote for him. The petition, issued on March 28, was signed by the secretary general of the association, Pekhi Nabum.

Around 7 pm, the CEO office issued a statement saying the association has issued a directive to withdraw the prayer petition with an apology, since it was in favour of a particular candidate. “In the evening secretary general, APCA submitted a withdrawal letter to the said prayer petition and tendered apology stating that their intention was not to campaign for any specific candidate but to pray for the peaceful conduct of the elections,” said the statement.

“This is not proper. We all are children of the GOD who never discriminates. Democracy is a system in which the government is elected by the people. I've always served the people with full sincerity. I help all the believers and religious organizations. If anyone has a doubt please contact most Reverend Bishop PK George to know about my contributions. Please pray for me and everyone,” Rijiju had posted on Facebook, along with a copy of the prayer petition.

Elections for the two Lok Sabha seats and 60-member Assembly in Arunachal Pradesh will be held together on April 11. Rijiju, who had won in 2014, is faced with a strong Congress candidate and former chief minister, Nabam Tuki.

Organising president of the association, Taw Tebin told DH over the phone on Sunday that they had issued the prayer petition since Tuki belongs to their religion. “We have withdrawn the petition since it hurt the sentiment of others.”

The CEO statement said a similar directive was issued to Arunachal Pradesh Christian Revival Church Council on March 26, which had also issued a similar petition to cast votes for a particular candidate. The council had also withdrawn it and apologised.

“The CEO while taking a reference to Section 123 (3) of Representation of the People Act 1951 has stated that appealing for votes in the name of religion falls under corrupt practices. He requested all to refrain from making such appeal for votes in the name of religion thereby putting in undue influence and pressure on the voters which not only violates the model code of conduct but is also an offence under Indian Penal Code,” said the statement.