The secretary of the Laity Council of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) submitted a petition to the chief election commissioner urging him not to conduct state assembly elections and its proceedings in different states during the Holy Week observed by Christians.
In his appeal, V C Sebastian appealed that Sunil Arora, the chief election commissioner, spare the Holy Week when finalizing the poll dates that are due to take place in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal and Pondicherry.
“Holy Week begins this year on March 28 starting with Palm Sunday and goes through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday on April 4. The entire week is of great significance to Christians all over the world,” Sebastian said.
“In various states, Christian institutions were utilized in the past as polling stations. In certain states like Tamil Nadu, parts of Christian Churches have been used as polling stations in rural areas. A lot of Christian faithful are assigned election duties. In this context, it is relevant to remember that the latest election to the Karnataka state assembly was held in the holy week, which engendered a crisis for the observance. Such factors are to be considered while finalizing pool dates,” he claimed.
Sebastian also indicated that the “ideal date” would be after April 15.
Cardinal George Alencherry, archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, also submitted a letter to the election commissioner urging him to consider the Holy Week before determining the dates for the Kerala state election.
"Since Christian officials will have to discharge their election duties, the date should be on a day that will not clash with Holy Week services," the cardinal wrote.
A decision taken in this regard will give attention to the religious interests of Christian voters, politicians and election officials, he said.