PANAJI: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Goa on Thursday accused some of the state's Catholic priests of acting like agents of the Congress, appealing to the people to vote for the party.
The majority of the state's population is Christian. Addressing a press conference here, AAP's Goa convenor Elvis Gomes said "I cannot brand all religious leaders in one group. Such people are there in all religions. But some (priests) do feel they should contribute to the Congress. There are three or four, who really act like agents. They leave religion aside and play politics."
"But I do not want to categorise the whole bunch into one lot. Even in the last week, when (prayer) services were on, they appealed directly to vote for the Congress. I only appeal to their (Church) hierarchy to take cognisance of this. Such things should not happen during elections," Gomes said.
In the run up to the elections, two videos showing Catholic priest Father Conceicao D'Silva badmouthing Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar and BJP President Amit Shah went viral triggering a controversy.
The influential Catholic Church in Goa, which is the religious and spiritual guide to more than a quarter of the state's population, was forced to express regret for the video.
However, days before the April 23 polls, Goa Archbishop Father Filipe Neri Ferrao created another furore by urging the electorate to vote out corrupt and communal candidates who promote division in the society.
On polling day, Gomes also expressed his dissatisfaction about the functioning of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and even lodged a complaint with the Election Commission (EC).
During the press conference, Gomes also formally announced the candidature of Valmiki Naik as the party's candidate for the May 19, Panaji Assembly bypoll. He is pitted against Congress candidate and former Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate. The BJP may either field Parrikar's son Utpal or former Panaji MLA Sidharth Kuncalienkar. The Panaji bypoll was necessitated by the death of Parrikar who represented the constituency.