MUMBAI, India – Elections in the state of Tamil Nadu in India are scheduled for Holy Thursday, and the state’s Catholic bishops are asking for a change.
Hundreds of millions of people will be voting for members of the national parliament from April 11 to May 19 in the world’s largest democracy. The election is a rolling one, with different areas voting on different days.
In Tamil Nadu, they are scheduled for Thursday, April 18. In addition to voting for the national parliament, the state will also be holding a vote on the state assembly.
Archbishop Antony Pappusamy of Madurai, the president of the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council, has petitioned the Madras High Court to re-schedule the poll so it doesn’t clash with the Easter Triduum.
Pappusamy said the scheduled date would make it difficult for Christians to vote, and could affect the results: Tamil Nadu is over 6 percent Christian, more than double the national average.
The archbishop also noted in his petition that the Catholic Church runs 2,800 schools in the state and most of them are used as polling stations, causing complications due to the religious celebrations.
The archbishop had previously appealed to the Election Commission, which refused the request.
The Union Territory of Puducherry – formed of four former-French exclaves that were annexed by India in 1954 – is also scheduled to hold elections on April 18. Like Tamil Nadu, Christians make up just over 6 percent of the population.