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Bishops happy with Indian election result

The Catholic bishops' Conference of India has expressed relief that India's voters decided "not to give in to fundamentalism" when they handed a victory to the Congress Party over the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

"The people of India have voted for peace and social harmony," said Conference spokesman Fr Babu Joseph Karakombil SVD.

The people "have chosen not to give in to fundamentalism, not to mix politics and religion; they have demonstrated that they want a secular nation built on the values of tolerance and freedom," he told the Vatican agency Fides.

The BJP had called early elections in view of good results on the political level, peace negotiations with Pakistan and a growing economy. Few political observers predicted that the BJP would suffer in the elections.

The BJP's agenda of strong nationalist policy had given rein to Hindu fundamentalist movements following the Hindutva ideology of one people, one language and one culture.

Fr Karakombil said: "The triumph of the Congress Party means there will be a change in India's policies. It is in fact the moderate mind of the people not steeped in religious nationalism but a champion of a secular state founded on values guaranteed by the Constitution."

"Minority groups, including India's Christians, welcome the outcome of the vote because they know Congress will adopt policies which are for tolerance and progress and which foster social and religious harmony rather than increase tensions," he added.

Results of Indian Elections Please Episcopate (Zenit 16/5/04)

Catholic Bishops welcome the verdict of the people ( 17/5/04)
Indian Christian forum congratulates new government (Insights 14/5/04)
Christians say Indian election result is answer to their prayers (Ekklesia 14/5/04)
Catholic official says elections show Indians want secular democracy (Catholic News Service 14/5/04)
Church Welcomes the verdict of people calls for a stable government (Catholic Bishops Conference of India 15/5/04)

18 May 2004