Ahead of polls, Goa Church-backed NGO slams political defections

Attributing lack of ethics and total disregard for popular mandate as the key reason for the phenomenon of political defections and desertions, an NGO which represents the social arm of the influential Roman Catholic Church in Goa has also said that a vice-like grip by “certain individuals” over voters had reached demonic proportions.

“Lack of ethics and total disregard for people’s mandate is at the core of defections and other political immorality. Goa has gained notoriety in the past as well as today for record number of defections and desertions driven by selfish considerations,” Fr. Savio Ferandes, executive secretary of the Church-backed Council for Social Justice and Peace said in an statement on Tuesday, days ahead of the February 14 Assembly elections.

“In our midst, there is a grip by certain individuals over the voters, which has assumed demonic proportions. On our part, we need to look not only at the candidate but also at her/his party. Large corporates often colonise (remote-control) through political entities.

“Money and freebees are distributed and unfortunately, many people accept them. These offer no solution for unemployment, for escalating prices and homelessness. Many candidates are propped up to divide votes on sectarian considerations. There is a system of divide and rule working in our midst,” he added.

Fernandes was also critical of political parties who offered free pilgrimages and said that announcing “fancy financial schemes” ahead of polls was deplorable.

“There is frequent misuse of religion for political purposes through much publicised blessing ceremonials and offers of free pilgrimages. Appealing to people to take money but to vote for oneself is blatantly improper and illegal,” he said.

“Floating of fancy financial schemes which cannot be honoured is highly deplorable, more so, when the state itself is in debt. Projecting electoral faces on the basis of caste and community is against the letter and spirit of our Constitution,” he added.

The Council has also urged voters in Goa to vote after being “mindful of the possibility of communal and fascist forces camouflaging behind the labels of political alternatives”.

“The peculiarity this time is that there are many choices; parties with national ambitions are here to increase their vote percentages, so as to gain national recognition, even by recklessly splitting secular votes. We should be mindful of the possibility of communal and fascist forces camouflaging behind the labels of political alternatives,” Fernandes said.

“Let us not be manipulated by political experiments, electoral adventurism and deceptive propaganda. We have joined the mainstream of national life long back. We need to remain in the national mainstream in a dispensation which is stable and secular,” he added.

Catholics account for nearly 26 per cent of Goa’s population.

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