Christian groups in Andhra Pradesh came together to launch a new political partyon Friday with an avowed aim to fight elections and secure the right of dalit Christians.
Indian Christian Secular Party (ICSP) launched in Hyderabad as national party aims to fight elections with Christian principles to get representation in state assemblies and the parliament.
Thousands of people including protestant and Catholic bishops attended the launch meeting, reported the Times of India newspaper.
One of the main demands of the party is that dalit Christians and Muslims should be given Scheduled Castes (SC) status.
"We can achieve our demands only through political means. Otherwise, the legitimate demand for SC status for dalit Christians for 66 years has been brushed aside," said the party's national president M Uday Kumar addressing the public meeting.
The party will fight the ensuing elections on the 'trumpet' symbol, which the election commission has allocated to it.
Recital of a Sanskrit sloka, lighting of candles, singing of Vandemataram and sounding of the trumpet (the elections symbol) marked the launching of the new political party for which a few thousand people attended from all over the state.
Uday Kumar outlined the welfare measures the party would implement. "It has become inevitable to form the party as Christians need to get involved in the political decision making process. We have only been seen as a vote bank so far," he said. He said even though amounts were allocated in the budgets not even five per cent was released for the welfare of Christian minorities.
JD (U) Rajya Sabha member Ali Anwar Ansari who was the chief guest at the launch of the ICSP said the Ranganath Mishra commission recommendations were not implemented on the SC status issue for dalit Christians and Muslims.
Even though agitations were taken up, the government did not respond to the demand, he said. "Social status does not change with religion," he said.
The speakers referred to the attacks against churches and pastors and said only with political power, they could prevent such incidents. The flag of the new party, similar to that of the nation flag but with a dove carrying an olive twig with three leaves in the centre, was hoisted on the occasion.
Source: Times of India
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