Shiv Sena to approach EC on Archbishop’s poll ‘fatwa’

Panaji, Dec 30 (IANS) The Shiv Sena on Friday likened Wednesday’s comments of Goa Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao about the Church guiding Catholics to vote right in the upcoming state elections, with the ‘fatwa’ issued by the imam of Jama Masjid ahead of polls.

Speaking to reporters in Panaji, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that his party would file a complaint against Archbishop Ferrao with the Election Commission, and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of hypocrisy on the issue.

“If the Church calls political parties and the Archbishop orders his community about whom to vote, the Election Commission should take action and those who heard the Archbishop silently at that time should also be acted against,” Raut told reporters.

“If Jama Masjid Imam issues fatwa on which party the Muslims should vote for or vote not, then the same BJP objects to it. Is this fatwa of the Archbishop acceptable to them? This is a ‘dhoka’ (cheating) against the people of Goa and the country,” Raut said.

On Wednesday, while speaking at an annual civic reception at the Bishop’s Palace in Panaji, which was attended by Goa Governor Dr. Mridula Sinha, Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and leaders from other political parties, Ferrao had said: “Elections to the Legislative Assembly of the state are approaching and the Church leadership in Goa will take up once again this duty-bound task.

“We do issue guidelines to our faithful on how to exercise their franchise and thus fulfil one of their sacred civic duties. These guidelines are read out in our churches, but they never mention the name of any candidate or any political party. The people are sovereign, they decide.”

The complaint before the Election Commission will be filed “today or tomorrow”, Raut said.

Elections to the state assembly are expected early next year.