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Goa Catholics demand change in poll date

Posted on Mar 05 2014 | IANS

Panaji, March 5 : Catholics and some political parties in Goa have opposed the Election Commission's decision to hold elections for the Lok Sabha seats in the state April 17, which clashes with Maundy Thursday, a day of religious significance.

Political parties across the spectrum as well as activists have already petitioned the Election Commission to change the poll date announced Wednesday.

Goa Chief Electoral Officer Keshav Chandra said they have forwarded the objections received by his office vis-a-vis the poll date to the Election Commission.

"We are waiting for their direction," Chandra told the media here.

Lawyer-activist Aires Rodrigues told IANS: "In my petition, I have said that Maundy Thursday is a holy day for the Christian community."

He said voters as well as government servants from the community deployed for election duty would find it tough to balance religious obligation and poll duty.

Banker Bruce Rodrigues said: "As a Catholic, Maundy Thursday holds significant importance in our lives as we come to the end of our Lenten season. And that's in the middle of Holy Week too. It is not a good decision."

Maundy Thursday is part of the Holy Week which follows the abstinence-marked period of Lent.

The Holy Week signifies a spell of reflection and penance and includes Palm Sunday which remembers Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday which commemorates Jesus' last supper with his disciples, Good Friday which honours the day of his crucifixion and Holy Saturday which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection.

Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat claimed that minority voting percentage would dip if the Election Commission went ahead with polling in the state April 17.

"It won't be difficult to postpone Goa poll dates to after Good Friday. So that everyone can vote," Kamat said, adding the party's Goa unit would petition the Election Commission to change the dates.

State BJP president Vinay Tendulkar also said the party would appeal to the commission to change polling dates in the State.

Christians account for nearly 30 percent of Goa's 15 lakh plus population.

India will elect a new Lok Sabha over a nine-day period from April 7 to May 12 and the results will be announced May 16.

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