NEW DELHI: National Commission for Minorities (NCM) chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi on Wednesday dismissed Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto’s remark about a “turbulent political atmosphere” in India.
He added that religious leaders should refrain from statements that could “vitiate” the atmosphere and “create fear in society unnecessarily”.
“There is no turbulent political atmosphere prevailing. There is no atmosphere of fear prevailing in the country. But the letter he (the archbishop) has written certainly will lead to an atmosphere of fear,” Rizvi said. He maintained that the Central government “was working for everyone” and did not indulge in discrimination based on religion.
The Delhi archbishop has kicked up a storm with his remark that a “turbulent political atmosphere” posed a threat to India’s democratic principles and secular fabric, a charge rejected by the government which said the comment reflected his “prejudiced” mindset.
Couto had written a letter to all parish priests and religious institutions in the Delhi archdiocese a few days before the May 12 Karnataka elections, calling for a “prayer campaign” ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The letter, dated May 8, was addressed to all churches in Delhi.
The Archbishop, who also asked Christians to fast every Friday “for the nation”, on Tuesday clarified that his letter had nothing to do with the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
The Archbishop’s office has also denied any political motive in the prayer, calling it a standard practice before elections.
However, many BJP leaders, including party chief Amit Shah, came down heavily on Couto for making the statement.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh called the Archbishop’s remark a “direct attack on Indian secularism and democracy”.