‘Pick candidates with secular credentials, skip pilgrimage around voting day’


The Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrao, Tuesday exhorted people to fulfil their “sacred duty” and “civic responsibility” of exercising their vote on the election day and to refrain from taking a train to Velankanni, a prominent pilgrimage site in Tamil Nadu, on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections in Goa.

He also called on “eligible Catholic voters” to cast their votes for “persons with secular credentials, who are truly committed to work for the good of all the people and to uphold the values enshrined in our Constitution”.

Velankanni Express train runs once a week from Vasco Da Gama in Goa to Velankanni on Mondays. Goa goes to polls in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 7.

In a circular, the Archbishop said, “It is known that there is a train from Goa to Velankanni every Monday, leaving Margao Station at 9.35 am. I earnestly appeal to Catholics to refrain from taking that train journey on Monday, May 6, and, instead, book their trip for any other Monday.”

He added that in case a train booking has already been made, it was worth losing some money by way of cancellation charges “for the sake of the greater good and the sacred duty of exercising one’s franchise on the election day”.

The circular from the Archbishop comes against the backdrop of rumours on social media, suggesting that a conspiracy was afoot by certain political parties to ensure that Catholics, who comprise a significant population in South Goa, miss voting on the pretext of the pilgrimage.

In the circular, the Archbishop said, “… It is clear that Catholics moving out with family and friends on a holiday or even going on a pilgrimage on the election day, thereby abstaining from the responsibility of participating in the voting process on May 7, would be not only doing a disservice to the nation but also failing seriously in their important civic responsibility.”

The Archbishop appealed to every eligible voter “to participate in the democratic process by casting the vote, not only as a right, but chiefly as a duty towards the nation”.

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