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'Goa Church group created Modi bogey among minorities'

Posted on Apr 04 2014 | IANS

Panaji, April 4 : Goa's Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza Friday blamed a Church-run organisation for creating an impression of insecurity among the minorities about Narendra Modi.

He was addressing a press conference at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state headquarters here.

D'Souza, one of the BJP's senior most Christian legislators, told a press conference last week that minorities have apprehensions against Modi and will continue to harbour them in the future, triggering a controversy.

He claimed Friday that his opinion was based on a statement issued by the Council of Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), a social front of Goa's influential Roman Catholic church.

"The apprehension was influenced by the CSJP. That was what created the apprehension for me," he told reporters.

"Minorities will have an apprehension. It will always be there," D'Souza said in response to queries if minority communities would accept BJP's prime ministerial candidate Modi, who in the past has been accused of hard-line right-wing politics.

D'Souza's comments came a few days after the Church in the state as well as the CSJP issued communiques which were critical of the BJP and blamed Modi as well as Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for communalism and misgovernance.

While the statement did not take any names, there were enough leads to suggest that the intended targets were the BJP chief ministers of Gujarat and Goa.

D'Souza was one of the few party leaders who expressed apprehension after Modi's nomination as the party's campaign chief during the national executive held in Goa last year.

His comments, coupled with a "vote for secular" directive to the 27 per cent Christian population in Goa issued by the Church have come as a shock for the BJP, which until recently was confident of capturing the crucial Christian vote in the state.

Parrikar Wednesday denied any feeling of apprehension amongst the minorities vis-a-vis the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

"I believe my chief minister," D'Souza said, in a seeming bid to contain the damage caused to the party by his comments.

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