Cardinal Pleased With India's Election Results

Says Country Wants an Inclusive Government

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ROME, JUNE 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Oswald Gracias of India says he's proud of India for having elected a moderate government last month.



The archbishop of Bombay told the Union of Catholic Asian News in early June that he was pleased with the results, because "we were worried that the fundamentalist forces might get predominance." He was in Rome to meet with Benedict XVI and Vatican officials.

India held general elections to the lower house of Parliament in five phases in April and May. The Indian National Congress led the United Progressive Alliance to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, and secure for themselves a second five-year term as the ruling alliance.

The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata has been blamed for sectarian violence targeting Christian and Muslims in several parts of the country.

Last August, some Hindu extremists in Orissa blamed the slaying of a Hindu leader on Christians. Dozens of Christians, including a priest, were killed, and more than 54,000 fled their homes. Thousands of them are still living in displacement camps.

The violence spread to more than 392 towns, where some 5,000 houses, 149 churches, and 40 schools were destroyed or burned to the ground.

Cardinal Gracias said the results show that India wants “a government that is inclusive. ... They are not happy with a government which will cause division.

"The Indian people do not want aggressiveness; they do not want repression of minorities."

India has a population of more than 1.16 billion people. According to a 2001 census, more than 80% are Hindu, 13% are Muslim and 2% are Christian.