‘Abuse’ of church heats up Meghalaya poll scene

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State Congress president Vincent H. Pala has accused the Voice of the People Party of disrespecting the church by allegedly saying some church elders distributed liquor to influence voters. Photo: X/@vincentpala

State Congress president Vincent H. Pala has accused the Voice of the People Party of disrespecting the church by allegedly saying some church elders distributed liquor to influence voters. Photo: X/@vincentpala

GUWAHATI

A regional party in Meghalaya has been equated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for allegedly abusing the church ahead of the April 19 Lok Sabha election.

Churches in Christian-majority Meghalaya are said to play a major role in deciding the fate of the candidates. Most of the believers in the State are Catholic and Presbyterian.

The State unit of the Congress accused the Voice of the People Party (VPP) of disrespecting the church by allegedly saying some church elders distributed liquor to influence voters.

“The VPP has damaged the reputation of the church in Meghalaya and beyond. The party should stop misleading the people of the State with their loose talk,” State Congress president Vincent H. Pala said on March 22.

Mr. Pala, who seeks to retain the Shillong parliamentary seat for Congress, said the VPP was copy-pasting the ideology of the BJP in going against the church.

Among his rivals are the VPP’s Ricky A.J. Syngkon, State Health Minister M. Ampareen Lyngdoh of the ruling National People’s Party (NPP), and Robertjune Kharjahrin of the two-party Regional Democratic Alliance.

VPP president Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit denied having maligned the image of the church and said the State Congress president had either misread or twisted his statement.

“I abused no one. I just brought to the notice of the people the degradation of values as we champion clean politics,” he said.

The BJP attacked Mr. Pala for dragging the matter into an issue between Congress and the VPP. State BJP spokesperson Mariahom Kharkrang asked the Congress president to give one example of the BJP disrespecting the church.

“The Congress leaders are aware that their chances are fading with each passing day. Such objectionable remarks are a tactic to fool the people and garner some sympathy votes,” Mr. Kharkrang said.

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