Asked what was the Congress Party’s stategy for the upcoming polls, the Lok Sabha member said: “First of all, the Congress’ strategy is to appeal to the people of Nagaland to heed the call of the Church, which is a powerful institution in the state of Nagaland.”
His comments come in the wake of appeals by local churches against voting for ‘communal parties’.
A week ago, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) — the most powerful Christian body in the state — issued a written statement saying “it is time to choose our future with Christian and Naga identity and encourages its members to have allegiance towards one’s faith, rather than by going with any communal party.”
“If anyone claims to be born again Christian, it would be too blind to adopt the ideology and belief of Hindutva which advocates uniform civil code; introduction of yoga in schools and disturbing or ignoring Christian calendar events and persecuting churches, believers and missionaries in the mainland India, just to mention a few,” it added.
The BJP has accused the Congress Party of seeking votes in the name of religion.
However, Gogoi said there was nothing wrong with the Church intervening in the election.
“The Church is a very respectable institution… Today, if the Church is issuing a message of peace and secularism and development, I don’t see anything wrong,” he said.
The Nagaland elections will be dominated by regional parties as the BJP faces an uphill struggle in a state that is 90% Christian.
The Congress Party too has fielded only 18 candidates in the 60 constituencies.
Gogoi said the party is not confining its activity to 18 constituencies.
“We are reaching out in all 60 seats through our party workers and MLAs, telling the people let us not allow communal forces such as the BJP and RSS to enter,” he said. “We are going out to the people to say that clean election means an election where we can form a secular government, where we can bring in parties that respect all communities, of all faiths.”
He also said people should not vote for regional parties such as the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party that support the ruling front at the center.
“Let us not allow a party like NDPP to play the role of a Trojan Horse and allow BJP a backdoor entry into Nagaland to vitiate the culture and unique identity of the Nagas,” he urged.