BHOPAL, India (CNS) — Hundreds of Christians, including a Catholic archbishop, were turned away from polling booths in India’s Madhya Pradesh state because their names were not on the voter list.
Christian leaders claimed there was foul play in the Nov. 28 poll, reported ucanews.com.
Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, the state capital, and hundreds of other Christians had to return home without exercising their right to vote for legislators — although they had election identity cards and other relevant documents.
Christian leader Saji Abraham started a petition to election authorities, seeking an investigation of what he branded a conspiracy. He and other Christian leaders suspect that Bharatiya Janata, the Hindu nationalist party that has ruled the state for 15 years, influenced officials to remove from voter eligibility lists the names of Christians traditionally considered supporters of the party’s archrival, the Congress Party.
“I’m sure my name was deliberately deleted from the voter list, which is unjust and not a good sign for the democracy,” Archbishop Cornelio told ucanews.com. He said he was denied the right to vote, even though he showed his election identity card.
“This is a stern message to the Christian community that they are no more in the reckoning,” Archbishop Cornelio said. “The message is subtly conveyed through deletion of names of senior community leaders.”
Indira Iyengar, a 78-year-old Christian former member of the Madhya Pradesh State Minorities Commission, said there had been a BJP-supported move to lower the number of votes for the Congress Party. She, too, was denied the right to vote.
“It is a well-known fact that I am a member of the Congress Party and my vote will never go to any other party,” she said. “Therefore, my name was struck out.”
Of the state’s 73 million people, about 311,000 are Christian. About 91 percent are Hindus, and about 7 percent of the state’s population is Muslim.
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it with youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month. Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can -- a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: