After a row broke out over the letter of Delhi’s Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto sent to his fellow priests to hold prayers for India ahead of 2019 elections, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the Ministry of External Affairs to cease all diplomatic relations with the holy Vatican which is the seat of Christianity. Not only that, the BJP leader also urged the prime minister to give directions to authorities to seal Vatican embassy located in New Delhi.
Speaking to media, Anil Couto denied the claims and said his request had nothing to do with the Narendra Modi government. “It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time, but all the more so when we approach the general elections. As we look forward towards 2019, when we will have the new government, let us begin a prayer campaign for our country from May 13 (sic),” the letter said.
The prayer attached with the letter also stated, “May the ethos of true democracy envelop our elections with dignity and the flames of honest patriotism enkindle our political leaders. This is our cry, Heavenly Father, in these troubled times as we see the clouds eclipsing the light of truth, justice and freedom.”
Outraged by Archbishop Anil Joseph’s move, BJP chief Amit Shah said, “I personally believe that no one should say things like this. For a religious person to make such comments cannot be accepted and appreciated.”
On the other hand, West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee supported the contention of Joseph and said, “We respect all communities, castes, and Archbishops across the country, including that of Kolkata. I think whatever they said, they correctly said. It’s a fact.”
When media approached Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue, he said, “I have not seen the letter, but I want to say India is one of those countries where minorities are safe & no one is allowed to discriminate on the basis of caste & religion”.