The recent controversy in Goa surrounding the political speech delivered by a priest within the church premises has exposed the ignorance of the Catholic community about their own faith. The haste in condemning the priest and apology from the Church leadership only smacks of lethargy and lack of application of mind. The irresponsible responses from the Catholic community in condemning the priest has only played into the false narrative of the Hindutva forces.
The priest may be guilty of going against the self-imposed restraints imposed by the Catholic Church for its priests in regards to politics within the religious place. The priest may have also violated the Model Code of Conduct by the Election Commission, recommending that religious places and events should not be used for election propaganda, when he named the political parties and politicians. However, the contents of the priest's speech in no way exceeded the limits of his priestly duties.
The priest, in fact, was well within his right, as a responsible citizen of this country, to guide society in making responsible political choices. In doing so, narrating facts are sometimes necessary to drive home a point no matter how bitter it may taste to a section of the people. The speech of the priest is not a 'Hate Speech' as alleged by a section of the press, as he has not propagated false perceptions or incited violence against any community or religion, nor has he appealed for votes on religious grounds.
If religious leaders exposing the BJP, Modi and Amit Shah amounts to a hate speech then, the same must also hold true for those Yogis, Gurus, Babas and the rest who publicly ridicule the Congress, Sonia and Rahul.
It is most unfortunate, that there appears to be double standards on what constitutes 'political interference' for Goa's media, one for minorities and quite the opposite for other faiths. Is the media and Election Commission trying to give the public an impression that Mutts, Devasthans and Temples within Goa are free from political meetings and hate speeches during elections? Why this hypocrisy by the BJP and its allied fanatic groups?
Why is the Church leadership in Goa not asserting its Constitutional rights, instead of playing Tom & Jerry with its followers, and getting the Catholic community boxed into political silence by the communal political forces?
I received considerable flak from many of my Catholic friends and quite a few abuses too on my condemnation of a priest's statements from the pulpit the other day. Evidently, he has a huge fan following for his spiritual healings and other acts of charity he engages in.
The bigger question that has me now wanting answers from the anti-priest brigade and the BJP locally which was rightly frothing at the priest's indiscretions is this. What do you have to say about Sadhvi Pragya, the main accused in the Malegaon blasts and who has importantly not been exonerated by the NIA Court, proudly joining the BJP and ready, steady and go to a contest in Bhopal?
A few answers please to the following
1. Will our overactive print & electronic media put forth the relevant questions nice and hard to the local BJP on their new found sister? And are they comfortable with her presence in their party?
2. Will our local BJP leaders , especially the liberal, Congress import types say something? Anything? Even as a flippant joke
3. Will the Facebook army and BJP trolls go apoplectic about this decision or should we not question patriotism again?
4. And would the EC now evidently with more teeth act with the same alacrity in case the revered sadhvi break the law??
5. And will the people of our country be comfortable with this and make peace with the inevitable?
So, so many questions I would be surprised if I got anything more than deafening silence and maybe a death threat or two.
Think twice before
you let out your ire
There is a meaningful quote of Benjamin Franklin, popularly known as the founding father of the United States, “A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over”. It would have been great if we had given some heed to these words and made it a point to think twice before we utter something inadvertently or intentionally, invoking the wrath of the people.
With the election fever mounting high there is an unusual atmosphere of reckless politicking, crossing all bounds and spilling hatred and vengeance around. The Supreme Court had to awaken the Election Commission for reining in the politicians who dared to cross their contours violating the model code.
The Union Minister for Women and Child Development was found pressuring the Muslim voters to vote for her, failing which she may not be responsive to their needs, thereby violating the code which forbids invoking caste and communal feelings and which bans seeking votes through bribery and intimidation. The SP leader Azam Khan, conspicuous as ever for using objectionable language, has been charged for making sexist remarks on Jaya Prada, his rival, which are not worth mentioning. It is unfortunate that a leader of his stature does not even know to treat women with dignity.
Yogi Adityanath, the star campaigner for BJP has landed in trouble uttering that if Congress, SP and BSP have faith in Ali then BJP has faith in Bajrang Bali, unnecessarily stimulating communal passions between groups. The BSP supremo Mayawati was not less in her articulation simply urging the Muslim community not to vote for a particular party. Can we not do campaigning without resorting to religious outbursts? They have been barred from canvassing for period ranging from 48 to 72 hours.
In Goa, a Catholic priest from Raia was a cut above all the rest, who not only urged the parishioners to refrain from voting for the BJP but also said that the death of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar due to cancer was a retribution for being anti-Christian. Epitome of the deep-rooted anti-BJP sentiments! At least this priest has tendered unconditional apology whereas Mayawati has been accusing the EC that she is targeted for being a Dalit and Azam Khan’s son is saying that his father is banned because he is a Muslim.
The present government in Goa led by BJP, Goa Forward Party, Independents and till recently the MGP seem to be against the government pensioners. Otherwise it is difficult to understand why the pension dues of those who retired prior to 2016 have been denied.
The 7th Pay Commission had recommended that the pay of such pensioners be fixed notionally in the new pay matrix and only the difference in pension, revised on its basis, be paid to them. The Central government approved the benefit in May 2017 and the Goa government which follows central rules had to follow suit but it has shelved the case.
Goa Government pensioners are a part of the disciplined and peaceful Goan Society.
You never see them agitating on the streets or organizing a bandh. It seems this is not appreciated by the government which acts only when there is disturbance and disorder. It is not late even now for the government to release the legitimate dues of this peaceful lot of retired senior citizens and show that government does not consider them as second class citizens.