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Church poll call for tribal cause

Ranchi, April 2: The three major churches in Ranchi have sent out a joint “conscience” call to the faithful to vote for political parties and candidates who would be true to the tribal-Dalit cause.

“Follow the voice of your conscience while deciding on whom to trust for the next five years,” said the message from a meeting of the All Churches Committee here today.

“Leave the safety of your homes and turn up at polling booths in large numbers…And ensure that peace is maintained at all costs and avoid violence,” the message exhorted.

The meeting, which was the second of its kind, was attended among others by Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop T.S.C. Hans of the Church of North India, and Premanand Soreng of the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Bishop P.D.S. Tirkey of the North-West Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church presided.

The church officials, however, refrained from identifying any single party or candidate and said no political strings were attached to the meeting.

It was common for churches, they added, to hold interactive and educative meetings on topics of human and national interest. An official cited the example of marriage counselling sessions that were held to help eligible couples cope with matrimony.

“In a similar fashion, a meeting was convened to educate the Christian community on the importance of exercising their right of franchise,” the official said.

The speakers at today’s meeting, however, emphasised in private that Christians should vote only for that political party which has a proven track record of fighting for the rights of tribes and original settlers. They indirectly suggested that the community should steer clear of communal parties.

The essential qualifications that the “chosen” party and candidate should possess were that they should be followers of secular ideals and believers in communal harmony, and espouse the cause of tribals and original settlers, the officials added.

The Church leaders were quick to add that the faithful were free to vote in favour of any political party or candidate. “We want to live in peace,” one of them said.

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