Not since the first state elections in 1963 have Catholics won so many seats in the Goa Legislative Assembly: 17 out of 40 deputies.
constitutes 43 per cent of the total in a state where Christians, mostly
Catholic, account for only 22 per cent of the population.
The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which holds power
in Delhi, won 13 seats, electing seven Catholic candidates.
support of a smaller parties and a few independent, it has gone before
the State Governor Mrdiula Sinha to claim the right to form a
At the national level, Christians do not support the BJP because of
its anti-Christian policy in many states, such as not granting visas to
In some BJP-ruled states, like Orissa and Jharkhand
Christians have suffered abuse and persecution. But in Goa, Christians
lost faith in the Congress party and voted instead for the BJP.
The BJP has ruled in Goa for the past five years. On the 3 March
election, it lost some support as is wont for parties in power.
environmental effects of its pro-industrialisation policies are one
cause. Despite this, the Christian vote gives the Hindu nationalist
party a chance to stay in office for another five years.
Still, many Christians think that the seven Catholic MLAs can do
little or nothing in a party that is itself not very democratic but
follows orders from the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu militant organisation.
In Mumbai, some Catholics who decided to run under the BJP banner
pulled out disgusted. The presence of Christian names is just window
dressing to get the vote in heavily Catholic areas.
Local observers do not expect any change in policy towards Christians
even though this will all depend on how elected Catholic lawmakers will
assert their views, interests and Christian values.
"Even if Catholics are elected, they become stooges of the party. So
really speaking there's nothing for Christians to cheer about,” said
Jamaluddin Sheikh, a Muslim journalist.
The BJP is considered more anti-Muslim than anti-Christian.