Christians Not Happy having Election Day on Maundy Thursday’- Karnataka Christian Social Welfare Society
Mangaluru: Election date: Don’t thank God it’s Thursday? The Election Commission’s rejection of a legitimate plea from the Christian community to reschedule its second phase of polling in 13 states on April 18, as it falls on Maundy Thursday, smacks of intransigence and insensitivity. There are three distinct issues at play – religious, logistical and the impact on voter turnout.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the ‘Last Supper’ of Jesus Christ with his disciples, whose feet he washed and marks the institution of the Eucharist. The word ‘Maundy’ is derived from the Latin expression ‘mandatum’ which means ‘command’ and signifies the commandments to his disciples to love one another as He loved them. View the sanctity of this day against Article 25 of the Constitution which guarantees all citizens the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion. This fundamental right is only subject to public order, morality and health.
The practices of religion in the form of worship must be distinguished from the freedom to practice it, which may encompass a broader sweep. So the argument that the church service on Maundy Thursday is only in the evening and the whole day exists for voting is specious. Christians may fast, pray, attend adoration services, visit many churches, meditate on biblical verses or do charity. The observance of Maundy Thursday cannot be limited to a couple of hours. And the Election Commission has no business to directly or indirectly suggest how this day must be observed.
Starting on Palm Sunday on April 14, the Holy Week goes right up to Easter Sunday on April 21 , with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday falling in between. There are many school grounds administered by the Church that are used for polling and will be required on the next day which is Good Friday for continuous prayers and worship through ‘Way of the Cross’, ‘Adoration’ and Mass for pretty much the whole day. Will these venues be ready overnight for an important day of grief and mourning that marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Has this aspect been considered? The refusal to reschedule polling need not be viewed as a case of majoritarianism. There are key constituencies where almost half the population comprises Christians.
Addressing the media persons during a press meet held at Mangaluru Press Club, Hary D’Souza, the President Karnataka Christian Social Welfare Society Stated, ” Election Commission of India and State Chief Election Commissioner have considered the appeal of Christian Community for change of venue etc. Despite their crucial elections schedules times they have taken appropriate action by issuing directions vide letter dated 18/3/2019 to all District Collectors and District Election Officer in the state. We thank them on behalf of entire Christian Community in India and State Christian Community specifically”.
He further said, “Sanjeev Kumar, the State Chief Election Commissioner, who is one of the most honest IAS officer, had specially considered our request and had forwarded it to Chief Election Commissioner of India. State Chief Election Commissioner officially wrote letters to all District Collectors and District Electoral Officers to take appropriate measures. In most districts, appropriate measures conducive to Christian Community request have been taken. We thank Election Commissioner of India and State Chief Election Commissioner for having taken some of the appropriate measures to facilitate conduct of Good Friday festivities by Christian Community”.
“It is also sad to note the political parties have neglected the Christians as they have not given any tickets to Christian Candidate, we strongly condemn it. Though there are 35 lakh Christians in the State who have made good contributions have not been considered by any political party. At least an opportunity for contesting in Mangaluru, Karwar, Bengaluru or Bidar should have been consider. Congress, JDS and BJP parties in the State have neglected the Christians. Now no one should believe that Christians will blindly vote Congress. Congress and JDS have been assuring formation of board for Christians, as it was announced in budget but so far no action is taken. Since Christians have not been given any opportunity to contest in 2019 Lok Sabha, at least they must consider for Rajya Sabha, Legislative Council and Chairmanships for Boards in near future, so that this injustice can be corrected” added Harry D’souza.
It is also learnt that Harry D’souza along with other board members who had met DC Sasikanth Senthil in this regard, were not successful in their efforts, since the DC was reluctant to make any changes to the said Election date, since it has already been announced, and trying to set an alternate date will be a long process.
Dr Edward Lewis- Vice president of KCSWA-Dakshina Kannada, Stany Lobo-President Elect Catholic Sabha, Mangaluru, Patrick Braggs and Stany Vas- both Committee members of KCSWA-DK.