Political parties eyeing Christian vote bank in Punjab

June 29, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Punjab, June 28, 2016: Come election time and the political parties are ready to woo any vote bank in their fold and the sizeable Christian population in Punjab is on their radar ahead of 2017 assembly elections.

While the ruling SAD-BJP combine claims to have given sufficient representation to Christian community and have launched various welfare schemes for them, the opposition Congress rubbishes all claims and have instead appointed as many as five General Secretaries from the community in the team of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) giving indication to the community of giving them larger representation, if voted to power.

One of the General Secretary, PPCC, Karam Masih told TOI on Sunday that Christians were not being given their due and the community felt alienated. He alleged that Christian leaders who were given plum posts by Akalis didn’t have constitutional powers and were not doing enough to redress communities issues.

Karam Masih who was former Bishop of Delhi Diocese, Church of North India (CNI) is of view that the community votes will affect as many as 15 assembly seats in Punjab especially where Christians have more concentration including border districts of Amritsar, Ferozpur, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran as well as Ludhiana.

While admitting that Christian leaders posted on significant positions were not empowered to tackle all the issues, Punjab State Minority Commission Chairman Nunawar Masih said the government was yet to frame procedures, rules and regulation of Commission. “I don’t have much powers due to delay in framing of procedures etc, I can’t even summon anyone, but I have met chief minister urging him to expedite the procedure,” he said. Christian population was around 35 lakh with more than 20 lakh votes in the state, he said.

State president a prominent Christian body Jagat Ki Jyoti Society, Danie Masih, fumed that Christian population was resentful of construction of a crematorium near a Church in Gumtala and had approached the Commission but didn’t help them.

However, eulogizing the ruling SAD-BJP government, Munawar Masih said government had provided benefits to Christian community under Shagun and Aata Dal scheme, besides he said Masihi Bhawan’s were being constructed in Gurdaspur and Amritsar. “We have seven marriage registrars from the community” he said.

While stressing the unity among Christian community, former member of Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board Kanwal Bakshi said that during last one month four meetings were held at various places at Gurdaspur, Patiala and Amritsar districts. “The unity among Christians would fetch rich dividends in socio-political sphere in Punjab especially in view of upcoming Vidhan Sabha elections,” he said. He informed that Congress would hold two gatherings would be held at Gurdaspur and Ajnala in Amritsar in the months of July and August besides holding ‘Masihi Adhikar Samelan’s’ in the state to consolidate Christian vote bank.

Moderator, CNI, Pardeep Kumar Samantaroy said Church advises people to elect leaders with clean image and those who were working for the community. He said political differences between people were a natural phenomena but the Community as whole should not be swayed by the allurements given to them during election time. “We have our own issues like reservation, more political representation, benefit of government schemes etc, they come first than just politics” he said.

– times of india

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