India: Archbishop Accused Of Violating Election Code


(UCA News) — A pro-Hindu group has sought action against a Catholic archbishop, accusing him of violating the country’s poll code by trying to influence voters on religious grounds amid India’s ongoing national elections.

The Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF), aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, wants the Election Commission of India to take action against Archbishop George Anthonysamy of Madras-Maylapore in southern Tamil Nadu state.

The forum’s April 29 complaint was about an editorial Anthonysamy wrote in the archdiocesan fortnightly The New Leader Weekly.  While highlighting India’s current socio-political situation, he also referred to the plight of Christians and Muslims under Modi’s rule since 2014.

The forum alleged it was an attempt “to influence voters on religious lines,” so Anthonysamy violated the election code.

In his guest editorial, Anthonysamy, president of the Tamil Nadu Bishops Council, wrote that Christians, who comprise 2.3 percent of India’s 1.4 billion people, must ensure 100 percent voting.

“Let us all vote,” he wrote, calling the election a “significant one… an election between two contrasting ideologies.”

Editor Father Antony Pancras said they stood by the guest editorial and denied the allegation it violated the poll code.

“The archbishop indeed tried to inform people about the plight of the country’s people, especially the minorities,” Pancras told UCA News on May 2.

But the archbishop did not give any instructions or ask people to vote for a particular party, he said.

Instead, “he was only appealing to people to vote as citizens,” Pancras added.

“Encouraging people to vote is neither a crime nor a violation of poll code of conduct,” the priest explained. 

Pancras also clarified that although a complaint may have been filed, “the archbishop has not yet received any notice from the poll body.”

The model code of conduct for the national elections came into force on March 16 and warned against seeking or influencing votes based on caste, religion, and language.

India’s seven-phased election to elect 543 members of the national parliament began on April 19 and will conclude on June 1. The results are expected on June 4.

UCA News

The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

One thought on “India: Archbishop Accused Of Violating Election Code

  • May 3, 2024 at 11:56 am

    The Archbishop has clearly taken a political role in making allegations on the “plight of Christians and Muslims” while elections were ongoing. It is a blatant appeal to the Christians and Muslims not to vote for BJP. If Clerics want to sway their flock to vote in a particular way, then, they must throw off their religious cloaks and enter the fray and be open about. Should not hide behind the pulpit.


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