Deferring poll scheduled on a Sunday Why mum on other issues ?
The decision of the Election Commission of India to defer the first phase poll of February 27 to February 28 is acknowledged. The official reason for changing the date of the first phase poll does not mention it, but it should leave no one in doubt that this decision was taken primarily on the basis of the representations submitted by different Church bodies under the aegis of the All Manipur Christian Organisation to change the voting day since it falls on a Sunday. And to the Christians, Sunday is a day for worship and other religious centred activities. As noted, the decision of the ECI is acknowledged and it would certainly go some way in cementing the widely held belief that the world’s biggest democracy respects all religion equally. One hopes the finer meaning of the ECI’s decision is not lost on the many who profess to be Christians but whose conduct comes nowhere near what Lord Jesus Christ taught ! The voices of concern raised by the different Church bodies are also acknowledged and as native people of Manipur, one cannot help but wish that the same voice of concern with the same intensity is raised to urge the hill people to come out for their Covid vaccination jabs. If AMCO and other Church bodies can put forward such a fine point as urging the ECI to change the voting day as Sunday is a day of worship for the Christians, one wonders why the same voice has not been raised to urge the hill people, who are mostly Christians, to also get their vaccination jabs, for as good Christians it is expected of them to give something to the land, much like giving Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s. Now that the prayer of AMCO and other Church bodies have been answered affirmatively, let their attention turn to the pathetically low vaccination rate in the hill districts, where most of the people are Christians. Let it also dawn on everyone that if the ECI can be urged to change voting day on account of it being a day set aside for Lord Jesus Christ, let it also be clear that unleashing violence and intimidating voters on behalf of one or two political parties or candidates does not exactly behove the stature of a Christian. This is being said in the backdrop of the fact that members of most of the hill based armed groups are Christians with some even coining a slogan or two in the name of Lord Jesus Christ.
Already voices of concern over use of muscle and gun power have been raised in some of the hill districts, with the NPP leading the way in raising this point. It was not for nothing why NPP leaders divulged to the media at New Delhi of the threat that its candidates are facing from some hill based armed groups, which ironically are in a peace process with the Government of India. One wonders whether the Church bodies will have the conviction to reach out to everyone in the name of the Lord to dissuade them from using such intimidatory tactics. This observation and questions are being raised in the backdrop of the fact that the Church do play an important role in the life of the people in the hill districts and this is where it needs to study how far they can and should go to speak out against the strong arm tactics, which may range from physically intimidating the voters, proxy voting and use of force to get the verdict in favour of one candidate or the other. Why is it that Congress candidates cannot campaign freely in some of the hill districts ? Has this question been addressed to by the Church bodies ? These are all questions at the moment, but questions which need serious deliberations. One common thread that runs through all the questions being raised is that no one should use religion selectively. Why use it on account of voting being on a Sunday but look the other way when guns are being fired and candidates and supporters are being coerced against campaigning freely and openly. Now is the time to deal with such disturbing facts.