UK: Conference on Dalit Christians

January 21, 2014 by  
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Caste DiscriminationTwo Day Meet (Non-Residential)
Date : 18-19 FEB, 2014
Venue : Amigo Hall
St. George’s Cathedral
Lambeth Road, London, SE1
Mobile : 07919247332
Email: fr.gerardmitchellsj@vodintl.org.uk

On Sunday January 2013, Churches Together in Southall gathered in St. Anselm’s Catholic Church for a Service to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Service had been prepared for use throughout the world. We came together in worship and in solidarity with our Dalit brothers and sisters, mindful of the challenging words of Pope John Paul II to the Catholic Bishops of India.

Fortuitously the theme of this Week of Prayer coincided with efforts in the United Kingdom, to combat caste discrimination on the rise in the  British-Asian community. Last Spring, UK’s anti-discrimination Equality Act 2010, with caste as “an aspect of race”, was amended, making it illegal.We continued to meet in Southall to consider ways in which we might support Dalits, both Christian and non-Christian, here and in S. Asia.

“Christian responsibility to Dalits & Caste Discrimination”

We brought our concerns to Bishop Patrick Lynch, Chair of the Office for Migration Policy, Member, CBCEW Department of International Affairs and Episcopal President of the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ). The Conference is its fruit and an opportunity to bring others in, for caste discrimination poisons the lives of millions of our brothers and sisters, strips them of status and keeps them in abject poverty.

It is an opportunity and invitation to hear the voices of the Dalit struggle and to reflect upon how the words of Pope John Paul 11 might impact upon the Church in its work of evangelisation and the development of peoples. It will be an occasion to hear from those who speak powerfully and authoritatively, from national and international perspectives.   We invite you and your organisations to participate.

Main Speakers:

  • Lord Bishop Richard Harries (House of Lords)
  • Lord David – Alton (House of Lords)
  • Bishop Patrick Lynch, (Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales-CBCEW)
  • Bishop Pete Broadbent (Bishop of Willesden & Deputy Bishop, London)
  • Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak (Member Dalit Commission, CBCI- India)

Pope John Paul II on Caste Christians

Pope John Paul II“At all times, you must continue to make certain that special attention is given to those belonging to the lowest castes, specially the Dalits. They should never be segregated from other members of society. Any semblance of a caste-based prejudice in relations between Christians is a countersign to authentic human solidarity, a threat to genuine spirituality and a serious hindrance to the Church’s mission of evangelization.”

– Pope John Paul II, November 17th 2003.

Police: Indian Mujahideen & Hindutvas target Kejriwal?

January 21, 2014 by  
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Indian Mujahideen planning to kidnap Kejriwal: Police

Indian Mujahideen planning to kidnap KejriwalNew Delhi, January 19, 2014: Terror outfit Indian Mujahideen is planning to abduct Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to demand the release of its co-founder Yaseen Bhatkal, police said Sunday.

“According to information from an intelligence agency, Kejriwal can be kidnapped by IM members, who are planning it in order to get co-founder Yaseen Bhatkal released,” a police officer said.

Bhatkal is currently in custody of Karnataka Police in connection with the 2010 Chinnaswamy Stadium blasts. He was arrested by the National Investigation Agency in August 2013.

Bhatkal is accused of being involved in many terror attacks across the country.

Police said a senior officer met Kejriwal Sunday to inform him about the threat and persuade him to accept high-grade security cover.

However, Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh told media persons that Kejriwal did not accept the police proposal.

All top party leaders will maintain their stand that they will not accept security cover, he said.

Kejriwal has been refusing to accept security cover in keeping with his party’s policy to “end VIP culture in politics”.

Last week, intelligence officials had warned that Kejriwal could be targeted by the water and tender mafia, which were feeling threatened because of his anti-corruption policies.

– ians

Hindu activists protest outside Kejriwal home

Hindu activists protest outside Kejriwal homeUttar Pradesh, January 19, 2014: Around 100 activists of the Hindu Raksha Dal staged a protest outside Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s house here demanding withdrawal of police cases against them.

A member of the Hindu group said its members had been arrested over the Jan 8 attack on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) office here because of a police complaint filed by the AAP.

The protesters demanded the immediate withdrawal of the case.

“Certain charges levelled against us are false,” a spokesman for the group said.

The activists gathered outside Kejriwal’s residence around 9 a.m. and said they wanted to meet him. But security personnel did not let them in.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal, who came out of the apartment complex in his car to go to Delhi, was intercepted by the demonstrators shouting slogans against the AAP. Police used force to let Kejriwal proceed.

– ians

Andhra: Minority funds go unutilized

January 21, 2014 by  
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Andhra Pradesh MinoritiesAndhra Pradesh, January 20, 2014: The minority bodies are likely to return unutilized funds to the tune of Rs 100 crores to the State government because of the new stringent guidelines.

Millions of rupees the Andhra Pradesh state allotted to help Christians and Muslims find self-employment will go unutilized this financial year as the state government has revised its guidelines on funding the project.

The state government has dealt a body blow to self-employment schemes for SCs/STs, BCs and Minorities implemented through welfare finance corporations by effecting a “comprehensive” revision of guidelines in the last quarter of the financial year.

As a result, the welfare departments are likely to utilize only a part of the massive funds allotted for self-employment schemes in the 2013-14 budget.

They may grossly miss the target of providing subsidy to the tune of Rs 1,708 crores to 6.24 lakh beneficiaries in the next 70 days before the closure of the financial year.

The Government Order issued through the social welfare department on December 31, 2013, spells out “comprehensive guidelines” for implementation of self-employment programs by all the welfare departments during 2013-14.

It has changed the subsidy pattern, eligibility criteria, norms for selection of beneficiaries and implementation and monitoring mechanism.

The eligibility criteria have been altered drastically. Beneficiaries have to be in the age-group of 21 to 40 years in case of BCs, minorities and handicapped groups and 21 to 45 years if they belong to SCs and STs. Relaxation of five years is allowed for vulnerable groups among SCs and STs as well as HIV and atrocity victims.

Beneficiaries who are availing the economic support schemes for the first time will be accorded priority. One-third of the beneficiaries will be women.

However, only one economic support scheme is to be granted per family and the beneficiaries availing financial assistance for the financial year 2013-14 will not be eligible under the scheme for the next five years.

The targeted beneficiaries are to be sub-divided for the districts and mandals/municipalities in proportion to the population of the particular category by the concerned welfare corporation. In view of the short time available during the year, the selection of beneficiaries will be done at the mandal level by a screening-cum-selection committee.

The new guidelines have come as a bolt from the blue for thousands of applicants who have registered online during the first nine months of the financial year (April to December 2013). Now, those below 21 years of age or those above 40 or 45 years of age have been rendered ineligible overnight. Applicants have been asked to register afresh based on the new eligibility criteria.

For instance, the AP State Minorities Finance Corporation, which has been given an annual target to assist 33,334 beneficiaries by providing subsidy assistance amounting to Rs 100 crores during 2013-14, had received 41,226 applications till December 17, 2013.

Only 11,897 applications were sanctioned with subsidy quantum of Rs 32.90 crores. Out of this, 1,942 applications were actually grounded and subsidy amount of Rs 4.71 crores was disbursed.

AP State Christian Finance Corporation set a target to assist 4,592 beneficiaries with subsidy of Rs 18.50 crores. However, only 391 applications were grounded and subsidy of Rs 1.14 crores was disbursed.

Both the corporations together are likely to return unutilized funds to the tune of Rs 100 crores during the year to the State government because of the new stringent guidelines.

– times of India

Bangladesh: Christian killed, others attacked. Pak blasphemy law challenged

January 21, 2014 by  
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Christian killed, others attacked by Islamists in Bangladesh

Elections for the Bangladeshi parliament took place on 5 January

Elections for the Bangladeshi parliament took place on 5 January

Bangladesh, January 15, 2014: A young Christian man was murdered and other Christians were attacked by Islamists in Bangladesh in violence related to the country’s general election.

Ovidio Marandy was killed on Saturday (11 January) in Gobindoganj, Gaibandha district. Islamists had previously torched his village to punish the Christian residents who had voted in the parliamentary elections, which were marred by controversy and violence, on 5 January.

After the fire, Ovidio organised a protest against Islamist violence; his family believe that this is why he was murdered.

Proshanto Gomes, a local church leader, told Asia News:

Ovidio was very brave, and was famous in his community. We are shocked by what happened. Christians have the right to vote. Why are Islamists attacking us?

Christians in the districts of Jamalpur and Sherpur were also attacked for taking part in the election.

The brother of a bishop was among the eight injured in Jamalpur; the victims were beaten and their houses vandalised. The assailants threatened to return, burn what was left of their property and seize their land.

Many Christians and others belonging to minority groups in Bangladesh did not vote because of threats from Islamist extremists.

The elections were boycotted by the country’s main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, (BNP) as well as other smaller parties. Prior to the poll, the BNP launched aggressive strikes, blocking roads, railways and waterways to cause disruption. At least 200 polling booths were torched, and on voting day, at least 26 people were killed.

The BNP boycotted the poll because it wanted a non-party caretaker government to oversee elections; this was a constitutional requirement until 2011, when the governing Awami League (AL) removed it.

The absence of the opposition in the general election gave AL a hollow landslide victory. The turnout was only around 20%.

Bangladesh has been rocked by political tensions for almost a year; Christians and other minorities have been targeted in associated violence.

Islamists, backed by the BNP, launched a violent uprising in February over war crimes trials of leading Islamists for their part in the country’s 1971 War of Independence. A number have been sentenced to death, each verdict triggering further unrest. The secular AL government has cracked down hard on protestors, escalating tensions further. Over 500 people were killed in political violence in 2013.

The clashes have resulted in the country becoming more and more polarised along Islamist and secularist lines. Islamists have become increasingly emboldened; they have been calling for Bangladesh, which is 90% Muslim, to become an Islamic state and for an anti-blasphemy law that carries a death sentence for those who insult Islam or Muhammad.

The BNP was expected to win the general election after routing the AL with Islamist support in mayoral elections in the summer.

– barnabas team

Blasphemy law in Pakistan Challenged

FSCPakistan, January 18, 2013: A five-judge larger bench, headed by Justice Fida Hussain, heard a contempt of court petition on Wednesday December 04, 2013 , filed by Advocate Hashmat Habib.

The following is being considered

  • Should blasphemy law,295 B and C of PPC applicable on Christians and other Non-Muhammadan?
  • Is the only death penality for 295 C of PPC is the right verdict of the FSC.
  • Are Pakistani Christians enjoying equal rights under these laws?
  • Are you agree with LEAD to file petition against this verdict of the FSC?
  • Would you agree that first should be defined what is blasphemy regarding 295 C of PPC.

Issuing its verdict, the court noted that in its ruling of 1990, the FSC had clarified that the mention of life imprisonment with death sentence should be removed from the blasphemy law under section 295 C PPC.

Child Abuse: Pope Benedict defrocked nearly 400 priests

January 21, 2014 by  
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  • Priests were defrocked over two years for molesting children
  • Vatican’s UN ambassador faces questioning in Geneva
Vatican's UN ambassador Silvano Tomasi in Geneva, prior to the start of a questioning over clerical sexual abuse of children

Vatican's UN ambassador Silvano Tomasi in Geneva, prior to the start of a questioning over clerical sexual abuse of children

Vatican, January 17, 2013: Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests in just two years, for molesting children, according to a document obtained by the Associated Press.

The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi confirmed that the figures were accurate.

Prior to that, the Vatican had only publicly revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received and the number of trials it had authorized.

While it’s not clear why the numbers spiked in 2011, it could be because 2010 saw a new explosion in the number of cases reported in the media in Europe and beyond.

The document was prepared from data the Vatican had been collecting and was compiled to help the Holy See defend itself before a UN committee this week in Geneva.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s UN ambassador in Geneva, referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of sometimes pointed criticism and questioning from the UN human rights committee.

The statistics were compiled from the Vatican’s own annual reports about the activities of its various offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases. Although public, the annual reports are not readily available or sold outside Rome and are usually found in Vatican offices or Catholic university libraries.

An AP review of the reference books shows a remarkable evolution in the Holy See’s in-house procedures to discipline pedophiles since 2001, when the Vatican ordered bishops to send cases of all credibly accused priests to Rome for review.

Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took action after determining that bishops around the world weren’t following church law to put accused clerics on trial in church tribunals. Bishops routinely moved problem priests from parish to parish rather than subject them to canonical trials or turn them into police.

For centuries, the church has had its own in-house procedures to deal with priests who sexually abuse children. One of the chief accusations from victims is that bishops put the church’s own procedures ahead of civil law enforcement by often suggesting victims keep accusations quiet while they are dealt with internally.

The maximum penalty for a priest convicted by a church tribunal is essentially losing his job: being defrocked, or removed from the clerical state. There are no jail terms and nothing to prevent an offender from raping again.

According to the 2001 norms Ratzinger pushed through and subsequent updates, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reviews each case sent to Rome and then instructs bishops how to proceed, either by launching an administrative process against the priest if the evidence is overwhelming or a church trial. At every step of the way the priest is allowed to defend himself.

The Congregation started reporting numbers only in 2005, which is where Tomasi’s spreadsheet begins. UN officials said on Friday that the committee has not received the document

– the guardian

Barnabas Briefs: Iran, Vietnam & Indonesia persecution

January 20, 2014 by  
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IRAN: CHRISTIAN CONVERT JAILED FOR A YEAR ON EVANGELISM CHARGES

Iran christiansIran, January 15, 2013: A convert from Islam to Christianity has been jailed for a year on charges relating to evangelism activities.

Hossein Saketi Aramsari, known as “Stephen” to his friends, had been arrested in Golestan province on 23 July. While awaiting his trial, he was held in solitary confinement for over three months.

Before receiving his final sentence, Hossein had been granted bail for conditional release, but for unknown reasons, the judicial authorities prevented his family from posting the required sum.

VIETNAM: TWO CHRISTIANS JAILED FOR DEFENDING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RELEASED

Vietnam highland ChristiansVietnam, January 15, 2013: Two Christians jailed for defending human rights and religious freedom have been released.

Ngo Van Khoi (53) and Nguyen Van Hai (43) were set free on 22 December, enabling them to celebrate Christmas with their families.

The pair were arrested in June and subsequently jailed on spurious charges of “disturbing public order”.

Their case prompted a series of protests in Vietnam and attracted international media attention.

INDONESIA: FIVE CHURCHES FORCED TO STOP CONSTRUCTION WORK OVER LAST MONTH

Indonesia ChristiansIndonesia, January 15, 2013: Local authorities in the province of Jambi, Sumatra, have forced at least five churches to stop construction work over the last month.

In the most recent case, in Pasir Putih, the village leader said that the church lacked the required building permit, and the local police chief said that a church in the area would be a source of “social disorder”.

The local government intends to build houses on the church construction site.

It is extremely difficult for a church in Indonesia to obtain a building permit; the convoluted process can take up to ten years, and even if permission is granted, officials may still block projects under pressure from radical Islamic elements.

– barnabas team

A faith story – Running in the rain

January 20, 2014 by  
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Mother and daughterShe had been shopping with her Mom in Wal-Mart. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout.

People all stood there under the awning and just inside the door of the Wal-Mart. They waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day. Some were mesmerized by the rainfall and got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as children come pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of the day.

MallHer voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance the people all caught in. “Mom, let’s run through the rain,” she said. “What?” Mom asked. “Let’s run through the rain!” She repeated. “No, honey. We’ll wait until it slows down a bit,” Mom replied. This young child waited about another minute and repeated: “Mom, let’s run through the rain.” “We’ll get soaked if we do,” Mom said. “No, we won’t, Mom.

That’s not what you said this morning,” the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom’s arm. “This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?” “Don’t you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, ‘If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything!”

Mother and daughterThe entire crowd stopped dead silent. You couldn’t hear anything but the rain. They all stood silently. No one came or left in the next few minutes. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child’s life.

A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith. “Honey, you are absolutely right. Let’s run through the rain. If GOD let’s us get wet, well maybe we just needed washing,” Mom said.

Then off they ran. The people all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked. But they were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. People got wet. They needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories… So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.

– fwd: reuben tellis

B’lore: Benny Hinn cancelation due to Hindutva protests

January 18, 2014 by  
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Bangalore, evangelical preacher Benny Hinn cancels visitBangalore, January 17, 2013: The American pastor made the decision in response to ongoing protests by some Hindu fundamentalist groups. Karnataka High Court pronouncement had rejected the appeal filed by some extremists and ultra-nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP ). Hinn was invited to a prayer conference, which began today.

The American pastor made the decision in response to ongoing protests by some Hindu fundamentalist groups. Karnataka High Court pronouncement had rejected the appeal filed by some extremists and ultra-nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Hinn was invited to a prayer conference, which began today.

The evangelical preacher Benny Hinn has canceled his visit to Bangalore , for the Conference of Christian prayer, which begins today in the city. Despite the support of the High Court of Karnataka, the famous Christian pastor chose to decline the invitation, due to the vast and violent protests of some Hindu fundamentalist groups and the ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP ).

Hinn, an American pastor, is known for what he calls “miraculous healing crusades”. He was supposed to attend the Conference of Christian prayer that in Bangalore (January 15 to 17 ), organized by the Bethel Assembly of God Church . His last visit to India, in 2005, had already sparked protests from the Hindu fringe of national politics. Hindu extremists had threatened the organizers with “heavy retaliation”. Even in this case, members of the fringe elements took steps to prevent its entry into the country.

According to the BJP and the associations belonging to the umbrella group of the Sangh Parivar , Hinn exploits his charisma and his ” ability to heal ” to convert people to Christianity. In one of the last organized protests against his visit, a Hindu holy man from Hubli (city in the north of the state) even attempted suicide, to convince the local government (led by Congress, secular party – ed) not to allow the entry of the preacher.

The event organizers have tried in every way to promote the participation of American pastor. At the news of his cancellation, P. Chamarajan , spokeswoman for the Bethel Assembly of God Church, said that his community “has the freedom to choose their guests and invite who we want. If we let those who are against us decide , what can we expect? ” .

According to preliminary estimates, the conference should involve about 25 thousand people , compared to over 200 thousand in 2005. The small number is due to the fact that only Christians were invited to the meeting and participation is free of charge . A decision the spokesman had explained, taken in order to avoid the complications of nine years ago. (NC)

– asianews

Cardinal Alencherry: Welcoming migrants is the mission of the new Eparchy of Melbourne

January 18, 2014 by  
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welcoming migrants is the mission of the new Eparchy of MelbourneMumbai, January 14, 2014: Pope Francis announced the first Syro-Malabar diocese in Australia, home to 35,000 members of the Syro-Malabar Church, mostly migrant workers. For the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, head of the Syro-Malabar Church (Kerala), the new eparchy is “required” for the development and integration of local communities into the Universal Church.

The new diocese is “required for the development of migrant communities from India and other countries in Australia,” said His Beatitude Mar George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly (Kerala), as he spoke to AsiaNews about the establishment of the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Melbourne, the first diocese in Australia designed to serve Syro-Malabar Catholics.

Pope Francis announced its creation on 11 January, when he appointed Mgr Bosco Puthur as its bishop. The prelate will also be apostolic visitor for Syro-Malabar Catholics who live in New Zealand.

“More than 35,000 Syro-Malabar Catholics live in Australia,” Cardinal Alencherry told AsiaNews, “and they are all migrants. They need full integration, respectful of their own tradition. That is why we have created the new diocese.”

The Universal Church, the cardinal said, “always takes care of migrants. At this time in history, a culture of coexistence is growing, which offers the Church a new horizon” to work with.

This way, a more stable structure “will be beneficial to the Universal church.” In fact, “The Australian community is very understanding towards the problems of migrants and is very welcoming to them as well. Many of our people are already working with the Australian Church [. . .] and there is good cooperation”.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite Syriac Church established on India’s Malabar Coast, which corresponds to the present-day Indian State of Kerala.

The See of the Major Archbishop is in Ernakulam-Angamaly and Mar George Alencherry is the present Major Archbishop. The Church has about 3.6 million members around the world community.

The new Australian diocese will be the second Syro-Malabar diocese outside of India. In 2001, the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle was created in Chicago.

The cathedral of the Eparchy of Melbourne will be dedicated to ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God.’

– asianews

2014 Polls: Conflicting idealogies & the enemies of India – Sonia Gandhi

January 18, 2014 by  
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Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, January 17, 2014: For Sonia Gandhi, communalism and fundamentalism are India’s greatest enemies.

The president of the ruling secularist democratic Congress party spoke at a meeting of its central decision-making assembly ahead of next May’s general election. She stressed the need to preserve India’s “age-old secular traditions of diverse communities living harmoniously in one composite national identity”. The party must also address widespread disparities, which are the “ground where despair leads to unrest and breeds extremism as the only hope for change.”

India’s “biggest enemy is the communal forces and fundamentalist ideologies. Congress always worked to unite the country and its people,” said Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Indian National Congress, the country’s main secularist party.

Speaking to the All India Congress Committee, the party’s central decision-making assembly, she said that the coming elections will be “a battle for India as it was conceived by our founding fathers and as we cherish. It will be a battle for the preservation of our age-old secular traditions of diverse communities living harmoniously in one composite national identity”.

In May, the country will go to the polls to elect the new Union government with two main contenders. On the one hand, we have the ruling Congress Party, which formed India’s first democratic government after independence in 1947, ostensibly the defender of the downtrodden. On the other, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindu nationalist party now in the opposition that advocates a Hindu-only nation and backs extremist groups like the Sangh Parivar, which has carried out attacks against the country’s ethnic and religious minorities.

These two opposite poles, Ms Gandhi noted, will make this election “a sharpened contest between conflicting ideologies, between conflicting interpretations of the past and between clashing visions of the future.”

“Our party is woven into the fabric of this nation from its very conception as a modern nation state,” she explained.

“This great country,” she added, “is woven of the rich individual strands of our regions, languages, religions, traditions and communities through the ages. Yet its vibrant beauty can be seen only as a whole, a single seamless fabric, much greater than the sum of all the strands.”

However, such beauty is under threat. For Sonia Gandhi, one of the main threats is economic disparity. Indeed, “In spite of impressive economic growth for which we can justifiably take credit, [. . .] disparities are still painfully widespread. Growth is essential and must be sustained.”

Yet, “rapid growth alone cannot address the problems arising out of continuing disparities. Tackling these is not just a matter of social justice but more importantly an existential necessity and a moral imperative.”

“If the basic needs of large sections of our society are not met in tangible measure, if the growing aspirations of our people are not met in substantial measure, the fabric of our society will be stretched and torn.  That is the ground where despair leads to unrest and breeds extremism as the only hope for change.”

During the meeting, party leaders announced that Sonia Gandhi’s son Rahul (a former party deputy president) would run the Congress Party’s election campaign.

Unexpectedly, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is not going to be the candidate for the post of prime minister against the controversial BJP candidateNarendra Modi.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi told senior leaders that there is no tradition of the party naming a PM candidate before the elections.

For some commentators, this choice is designed to protect the young politician, already dubbed India’s “future leader” from a possible defeat.

For others, it is a way to avoid turning the election into a personality clash between Gandhi and Modi.

– asianews

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