Itanagar: Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju on Sunday accused the Arunachal Pradesh Catholic Association (APCA) of asking the people of the state, particularly the Catholic community, to vote for former chief minister and Congress candidate Nabam Tuki in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.
Tuki is contesting against Rijiju for Arunachal West Parliamentary constituency, where the latter is also the sitting MP from the BJP.
Rijiju, who on Sunday chose the social media platform to express his discontent, posted the petition letter allegedly signed by APCA general secretary Pekhi Nabum. It read: “The APCA appeals and requests all the parishes and catholic churches in Arunachal Pradesh to pray for Nabam Tuki, who is contesting the ensuing Lok Sabha elections from Arunachal West parliamentary constituency. He is the pillar of Catholic churches in the state.”
“Pray for the peace and prosperity, protection and success of their election. APCA requests all the voters of the catholic community who are going to cast their valuable vote on April 11 to exercise their adult franchise with prayerful clear conscience and vote in favour of him (Tuki),” the letter added.
Reacting to the petition, Rijiju said, “This is not proper. We all are children of the God who never discriminates. Democracy is a system in which the government is elected by the people. I’ve always served the people with full sincerity. I help all the believers and religious organisations. If anyone has doubt please contact most Reverend Bishop P K George to know about my contributions. Please pray for me and everyone.”
Although Pekhi Nabum did not respond to calls made by this correspondent, Taw Tebin, the APCA president, later in the day clarified that “the order was not issued by the association or the church but it was rather an individual decision made by Nabum”.
Tebin said prayer petition letters are normally issued by the APCA during times of trouble or miss-happenings and it was unfortunate that one was released this time for the elections.
We appeal for peaceful and money-free clean elections, Tebin said while adding that the association has already wrote a withdrawal and apology letter and submitted it to the election commission.
The chief electoral office in a statement issued on Sunday evening said that it had issued a show-cause notice to APCA and the association has responded to the same with a letter of apology and assured to withdraw its order from all social media platforms.
The CEO further appealed all individuals and organisations to stay away from making irresponsible, defamatory, derogatory, offensive, communal and gender-insensitive posts on social media platforms.
The Election Commission had in March received a similar complaint from a right-wing organisation active in Arunachal that the Christian Revival Church Council had appealed voters to support Khyoda Apik who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections for the same seat.
Apik is the president of the Arunachal Christian Forum and contesting on a National People’s Party ticket.
Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Arunachal Pradesh will be held simultaneously on April 11.