ASIA/INDIA - National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies on the election: “The voice of an opposition is needed for democracy to remain alive”

Tuesday, 28 May 2024 politics   religion  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - As India approaches the end of the long process of electing the 543 members of the Lower House (in seven rounds of voting between April 19 and June 1, with the final results on June 4) "we have noticed a greater awareness among the population, especially among young people, on the need for the voice of an opposition in Parliament to ensure that the democratic dialectic is alive," explains Father Ambrose Pitchaimuthu, an Indian priest from Tamil Nadu (South India) and national Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in India, to Fides. Father Ambrose Pitchaimuthu is attending the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Rome. The National Director notes that "it appears that outgoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may get a less overwhelming majority than predicted on the eve of the election. However, his nationalist party has a solid structure in the state apparatus". "The state bureaucracy and the police are on his side, many employees were trained in RSS camps, while many media outlets are also owned by businessmen who support Modi", he notes. Furthermore, "the Congress Party, the main opposition party, has become fragmented and weakened in recent years, and there is a generational conflict within the party between old and new leaders," notes Father Ambrose Pitchaimuthu. “In the most recent phase of political confrontation,” said the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, “Modi has also used religion as a political weapon, consciously using religious language and even presenting himself in an interview as a 'messenger chosen by God' ". "India," he continues, "is a deeply religious country, but historically post-independence leaders have remained publicly secular, in part to avoid indulging in the vicissitudes of interfaith violence sweeping through the country.
When Modi first ran for election about a decade ago, he chose India's spiritual capital Varanasi as his constituency, "making the ancient city the perfect backdrop to showcase his political ambitions and mix them with religion," he states. This approach, the Director said, "also appeals to the illiterate or poorly educated section of the population, the poor and downtrodden, who constitute a solid voter base for the BJP." “The desire of a part of the nation,” he concludes, “is to have a present and solid opposition in Parliament in order to preserve the democratic soul and thus precisely from the confrontation between the political forces that represent different sectors of Indian society "represent what good can come to India's future, with full respect for the values of the Constitution". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 28/5/2024)