Inadequate Representation of Christians in Lawmaking Bodies both at the Center and States
Bengaluru: Today, Christians do not have adequate representation in lawmaking bodies both at the Centre and the States. If this issue is not addressed today, the generations unborn will not forgive us. The need of the hour is for all Christians to come together and assert their presence in the political space.
Unfortunately today in India, the Christian community is seen as a divided community. I am a Christian. I believe I am a Christian in the true sense where I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The beauty of my Christian faith is that it has guided me to be fair and just in the execution of my official responsibilities as a Civil Servant and life in general. It has also taught me not to discriminate people on the basis of religion, caste, or social status. It has guided me to empathise with the have nots in our society and catalyze them to come up the social ladder and live a life of dignity and respect.
Denomination wise, I was born and brought up in a Catholic family, but I am ecumenical in my approach. Denominations are only creations of men; they are the products of culture, history, tradition, rituals and so forth. Essentially, there is no difference and there should not be any difference regarding our identity as a Christian community in society. The Christian community in India has its contribution to social welfare, education, and health sectors. But unfortunately, when it comes to demanding our rights in public spaces and the corridors of power, we have not asserted ourselves in a united voice. This is the biggest weakness of the Christian community. My roots are in Kerala where the population of the Christians is sizeable and the representation of the Christian community in public life is substantial. I have lived in Karnataka for over 50 years, and now I am proud to call myself a son of the soil. Christians are influential in some pockets of the state, but they are all divided on the basis of language, culture, and denominations. As a result, the political parties also do not view the Christian community as a cohesive force.
From the political point of view, It is true that from the very beginning of our independence the Christian community has been unconditionally supporting the Congress party because the basic principles of the Congress party are based on the Christian principles of inclusive growth, socialism, democracy, freedom, protection of the marginalised, bringing the scheduled castes, tribes, and Dalits into the mainstream of development. Therefore, by nature members of the Christian Community have been supporters of the Congress party.
Today in 2019, the Congress party by its indifferent attitude has exposed itself to the criticism that they are taking the Christian community for granted. This feeling is increasingly felt by the members of the Christian Community. Time and again representations have been made to the Congress party that the Christian Community should not be taken for granted and adequate representation in public sphere where the party is in a position to decide should be extended to the Christian Community. I remember as an observer of the Congress party in the last Goa Assembly elections, there was a palpable feeling among all sections of the Christians in Goa that the Congress Party has taken them for granted, and there was a message being sent out that the Christian Community was capable of swinging the outcome of the election results by collectively voting for or against any party. The final results in Goa were adequate proof of that when four MLAs from the BJP won with the support of the Christian community in Goa, and one of them went on to be the deputy chief minister. As an observer, I had the opportunity to bring it to the notice of the Congress party in Goa, but it looks like nobody has taken that seriously. Christians as a vote bank are game changers and this cannot be ignored in any part of the country. Especially in Karnataka, the increasing feeling of neglect and marginalization of the Christian Community may lead members of the Christian community to think of other options in regards to affiliation to political parties and exercising their franchise.
Several groups of Christian leaders from all across the state in the course of the last few months have brought to my notice a feeling of neglect of the Christian Community by the Congress party. I have also been part of community leaders who met the Congress party leaders at the State and the High Command to impress upon them that it is imperative that they address this issue and assuage the feelings of neglect among the Christian Community, especially among the youth, so that their loyalty to the party can be sustained.
I have made it very clear always that whenever I have gone with the people to convey this point to the Congress party that it has not been to project my candidature, but I have only taken up this cause as a person who has lived in this state for over 50 years, interacting with the people and different groups of Christian community to relay the general feeling of the Christian community to the party. There was a justified demand from the Christians for representation of a Christian in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from Karnataka. The decisions have already been taken and the ball is now in the “peoples court” – Vox Populi, Vox Dei – The voice of the people is the voice of God
Press release by
J. Alexander I.A.S. retd.,
Former Chief Secretary and former Minister
Government of Karnataka.