Archbishop did not meet BJP leader before 2012 polls: Goa Church

Panaji, April 14 (IANS) The Goa Church Sunday refuted claims by a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader that she had met the Archbishop of Goa in a minority outreach exercise ahead of the March 2012 polls.

In a statement issued here, Fr. Francisco Caldeira, spokesperson for the Goa Church, said “no such meeting” had taken place between BJP national secretary Arti Mehra and archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao, as claimed by her in a press conference last week.

“It has also been stated that the BJP National Secretary had a private audience with the Archbishop, as part of the pre-polls BJP campaign. It is clarified hereby that no such meeting did ever take place,” Caldeira said.

Mehra, in her press briefing at the party’s state headquarters in Panaji had said that BJP was keen to replicate the Goa formula (the party had allotted eight tickets to Catholics and started a minority outreach programme ahead of the polls) elsewhere in the country.

She had also said that her meeting with top Catholic leaders and heads of institutions like the bishop were part of the party’s committed minority outreach programme.

Caldeira claims that the Church had exhorted its priests and community leaders not to name a particular political party because it shuns “partisan politics”.

“The final result of the last elections cannot, therefore, be attributed to the Church having actively promoted any particular political party,” Caldeira said.

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