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ICC Note: Christian leaders in India have denounced a doctored letter being circulated on social and mainstream media alleging a Catholic conspiracy ahead of elections in Karnataka. Proponents of the letter claim it shows the church attempting to side with the Congress Party to give Lingayats religious minority status in order to garner votes. Hindu nationalists have also claimed Catholics have sided with the Congress Party on this matter because it will allow them to convert Lingayats to Christianity in mass.

05/15/2018 India (World Watch Monitor) – The Catholic Church in India has deplored a “fake” letter widely circulated in social and mainstream media alleging a Catholic conspiracy ahead of elections in southern Karnataka state.

“This is totally unacceptable. This is a blatant attempt to spread lies,” Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), told World Watch Monitor today (11 May).

In press release earlier this week, the bishop said “the circulation of this letter just before the Karnataka elections is a disgraceful and mischievous ploy.”

The letter in question was in fact an email, purportedly from Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, CBCI president, to Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and the country’s technology hub, known as the Silicon Valley of India.

The email inferred that the Catholic Church had taken the side of the ruling Congress party over a divisive issue involving a Hindu sect, in a seeming attempt to damage the prospects of the main opposition, the Hindu-nationalist BJP.

The Congress party government had recently recommended “minority” status be given to the Lingayat sect, which accounts for 17 per cent of the state’s 61 million population. Lingayats, traditionally known as BJP supporters, are now thought to be divided, with a section ready to support the Congress party.

Hindu leader Swami Nishchalanand tweeted: “Lo behold! Church allegedly behind the divisive scheme of separating #Lingayats from #Hindus. A leaked email supposedly sent by SecGen CBCI to Archbishop Bangalore… this says much..!”

But the CBCI strongly denied any part in the letter, and warned it may take “legal action” against those behind it:

“The false letter makes wild allegations about the Church involvement in the Lingayat issue.”

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