By Robin Sam
THE 17th Lok Sabha elections are here. This election will determine what course the nation will take in the next five years. The country has been through hell in the past five years. Lynchings in the name of cow protection, demonetisation, GST, religious tensions, tanking of the GDP growth, gagging of all institutions and the rise of aggressive Hindutva politics have seen minorities being terrorised, the economy getting battered, justice being denied and the nation becoming a laughing stock in the international arena. Rather than deliver on its promises, the incumbent government has resorted to spin politics, propaganda and blaming Nehru for things he did not even live to see, leave alone execute.
As responsible citizens of the country, we have a political mandate – to exercise our franchise and vote to power capable men and women of character. Our votes will determine the future of polity and democracy in the country. However, as mature Christians we have a spiritual mandate too – to pray and let God shape the destiny of the people of the nation and the world at large. Here are 5 points that must weigh our hearts so much that we will pray for them every day till the elections are over and a government that is efficient, transparent and pro-people is voted to power.
1. Pray for the peaceful conduct of Lok Sabha elections in April and May. In this elections, 900 million people have so far registered. May there be no violence or bloodshed in the country. May wisdom prevail upon people of all states irrespective of their religious and political leanings to elect a government that is pro-poor, works for development, shuns corruption at all levels and ensures the safety of the minorities.
2. Pray for righteous men and women who are God-fearing to be at the helm of the Election Commission, the state election commission offices and police departments in every state and every district and every village to check malpractice during campaigning, polling and counting of votes. Let this election not be a farce or an insult to the people of the nation.
3. Pray that the people of the nation primarily take into account four factors – social, political, local and livelihood issues – while exercising their mandate for the local MP or MLA (in states where byelections or assembly polls are due). Pray that God helps people rise above casteist considerations to vote a government that takes the country forward, not backward. As Christians, we need to remember what happened to our churches, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, NGOs and other minorities in the past five years and vote responsibly.
4. Over 15 million first-time voters are expected to press the EVM button in this election. Pray that these young voters are guided to vote for the right parties in all earnest by their parents and elders in their families. Where right guidance is not available, pray that these voters will be able to make up their minds in favor of candidates who are honest in their conduct and earnest in their desire to serve the people. May all candidates who are corrupt, casteist and have criminal and fundamentalist backgrounds be roundly defeated.
5. Social media apps and websites will play a major role in swinging votes. All parties are spending big on social media campaigns. Pray that the Election Commission is able to clamp down heavily on political parties that incite violence in the run-up to the elections through rumors and propaganda. May the people, especially the youth of the nation, also be wise in their political choices.