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Bishops' appeal to choose God-fearing candidates leaves Left fuming

Monday, July 19, 2010 06:09:30 PM, PTI

Thiruvananthapuram: The ruling CPI (M) and powerful Catholic Church in Kerala are headed for a collision course once again with the apex body of bishops issuing a pastoral letter urging the Christian community to choose only "God-fearing" and "selfless" candidates in polls.

The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) circular, read out in most churches across the state before the Sunday congregations yesterday, was apparently aimed at the civic polls that are round the corner and the Assembly elections less than a year away.

The bishops also called upon the faithful not to get duped by independent candidates often put up by parties to garner votes outside their political sphere of influence.

The CPI(M) leaders were quick to react to the KCBC letter dubbing it as a "politically prejudiced" move to help anti-Left forces and secure the narrow interests of the church establishment.

The reference to "independents" in the KCBC communique was seen by Left circles as an allusion to the Left parties fielding non-party nominees, especially from the minority communities, as it had done in Parliament and Assembly polls in the past.

The church sources, however, denied the charge maintaining that the letter only reflected genuine Christian concerns and that elections should be an opportunity for the "good and earnest" persons to emerge as the people's representatives.

Kerala Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac described it as an attempt by the bishops to meddle in politics by seeking to turn elections into a "test of faith".

Isaac, a CPI(M) Central Committee member, said that the move to reduce elections into a referendum on faith at the cost of real issues like price rise and well-being of all communities was not only unfortunate but also fraught with "dangerous consequences".

Ever since the LDF Government came to power four years ago, the Catholic Church had repeatedly come out against its polices, especially those pertaining to the education sector.

The Church, which runs a large number of educational institutions in the state, has accused the government of implementing its "hidden agenda" of infusing the curriculum with atheistic and material contents to serve its ideological purposes.

The CPI-M and the government, however, had countered the charge arguing this was an unfounded propaganda unleashed by a section of bishops who want to help political interests of the Congress-led UDF.

Meanwhile, Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA) members held a protest against the KCBC letter in Kochi.





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