The Bishops and church heads in Andhra Pradesh have issued a ‘ pastoral letter’ urging all Christians to vote for secular leaders ‘who are sincere, free from crime and corruption and communalism’ in the upcoming May 7 elections in Seemandhra.
The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches has issued the letter but has not specifically named any political party or leader.
Christians, though in minority, form an important part of voters in Andhra Pradesh.The minority population constitutes about 13 % of united Andra Pradesh and had displayed remarkable impact in voting patterns in the state in all previous elections.
“We need to elect leaders who are close to people and respond to their needs; who strive for social justice and equality of the marginalised groups like the tribals and Dalits especially Dalit Christians and protect the rights of the minorities; who are determined to advance an inclusive economy that supports the poor especially to the unorganized labourers and marginal farmers by ensuring their basic human rights to food, water, shelter, health, education and employment; who strive to ensure the safety and security of women and children and their essential rights to life and livelihood; who lay focus on youth for ensuring their holistic development with character building, critical education and life skills; who make every effort to curb corruption and bring about good governance with peoples’ plans and decentralized, transparent, accountable and responsible administration; and who endeavour to protect the environment with sustainable development to safeguard the rights of Tribal and Local communities over land, water and forests,” the letter said.
“We are deeply concerned about the pressing needs of our Christian Community in State,” the letter goes on. “Our State records one of the highest numbers of atrocities committed on Christians and pastors. During the recent months these attacks have increased in some districts. Organized mob attacks are taking place on Christians during their worship”, says a pastor of the local church in Hyderabad.