Christians seek Congress quota

"In case the Congress does not concede some representation to the community, we will boycott..."
( [email protected] ) Nov 15, 2003 10:32 AM EST

New Delhi, India., Nov. 15 - The Christian community in Delhi is seeking representation from the Congress in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The community has even identified the constituencies and persons for the same and claimed that it would have to review its "unconditional" support for the Congress if its demand was not fulfilled.

The Churches of North India had submitted a list of five candidates to the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee and identified Chandni Chowk, Timarpur, Sarojini Nagar and Palam Nagar for Christian representation as these seats have a "reasonable" presence of Christians.

But it is learnt that even after being recommended by a few of the DPCC members, none of the names were shortlisted by the screening committee, which has senior Congress leader Motilal Vohra as its chairman and AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes as one of its five members.

"A delegation of the Christian community headed by the CNI bishop Karan Masih met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in this regard last month and she had assured him to look into their representation issue," said one of the aspirants, Ms Nisha Samuel, who is also the secretary of Delhi Pradesh Mahila Congress.

"When the Congress can give representations to the other communities, why such step-motherly treatment to the Christians," she argued. Sources said that Mrs Gandhi had consented to grant one seat to the community.

"The community was also non-pulsed at the non-empathetic attitude of Mr Oscar Fernandes on such an important issue of representation, particularly when he himself happens to be from the community and also an important member of the screening committee," said another member from the community.

"In case the Congress does not concede some representation to the community, we will boycott the elections and review our future support to the party," he said.

The spokesperson for the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, Mr Dominic Emmanuel, said the issue of representation was not a policy decision from their side, but there was no harm in asking for the same, especially in circumstances when the community was under constant verbal and physical attack.

"Delhi being the microcosm, such a representation would definitely be of great significance," he said.

The CNI had identified five contestants, namely Mr Maurice Massey from Timarpur, Ms Nisha Samuel from either Chandni Chowk or Timarpur, Mr S.P. Roy from Sarojini Nagar or Palam Nagar and Ms Sylvia Verma.