The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Communal Voting: Congress Candidate Woos Christian Voters

Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service
Kariyal (Ajnala), February 16 2005

Even as Christian votes are a deciding factor in the crucial Ajnala byelection, Mr Oscar Fernandes, a Member Parliament and general secretary of the All-India Congress Committee, today held a closed door meeting with the priests in the presence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the PPCC President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, on church premises in this remote border village, here today.

Before addressing an election rally, Fr Franco (Jalandhar), Fr Paul and Fr Thomas Valia (Ajnala) apparently got a promise from Mr Fernandes and the Chief Minister that the genuine demands of the Christian community would be accepted after the byelection.

The local Christian leaders urged the Chief Minister and Mr Fernandes that the members of the community belonging to the economically weaker sections should be given all facilities given to other Scheduled Castes. They also demanded that one Assembly constituency should be reserved for Christians candidate in the state. However, they appreciated the state government for declaring ‘’Good Friday’’, as a gazetted holiday.

Amid slogans of ‘Halleluia’ (praise for the Almighty), Fr Franco, openly sought votes for the Congress candidate, Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala, He said the Christian votes were a factor which could tilt the balance in the byelection.

Mr Fernandes, said Christian community had always reposed faith in the policies and programmes of the Congress. He said the Congress was the only party that had been instrumental in the overall development of the downtrodden and fought for the common interests of the underprivileged section of the society. He said the Union Government had already decided in principal to give all economic and social facilities equivalent to the reserved categories. He said the state government too was committed to give due representation to the representatives of the Christians. He complimented the people of Punjab in general and Christians in particular for their unflinching support to the party which was evident from the verdict given during the byelections of Malout, Garhshankar and Kapurthala.

Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, while addressing the Congress rally said the state government was fully determined to grant minority status to the educational institutions run by Christians and would provide all financial assistance so that these temples of learning may continue to provide quality education to the children.

Speaking on the occasion, Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government was committed to uplift the downtrodden. He said all efforts would be made for the overall development of the border constituency.


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