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Opposition, Church official in Goa slam "Hindu Nation" remark
Sunday July 27, 2014 0:43 AM, IANS

The Opposition Saturday collectively demanded the dismissal of two cabinet ministers in the BJP-led coalition government in Goa, while a Church official said both Co-operation Minister Deepak Dhavalikar and Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza, who referred to India as a "Hindu nation", have no place in the country.

"We will be presenting a memorandum to the Goa governor demanding the dismissal of the two ministers over their comments. If that fails, we will also seek legal recourse to drop the two ministers, who have sworn to abide by the constitution," state Congress president Fernandes told a press conference at the party's state headquarters.

Fernandes' comments came after the two Goan ministers made national headlines with their remarks on India as a Hindu nation.

D'Souza on Friday had said, "India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including I - I am a Christian Hindu."

D'Souza is one of the seniormost minority members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa.

Christians account for nearly 26 percent of the state's population.

On Thursday Dhavalikar while speaking during a congratulatory motion in the state legislature had said India could well be on the path to becoming a Hindu nation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Both comments had triggered an uproar at the national level as well as in the state's political and social circles, with the Congress legislature wing even staging a walkout in the assembly Friday against the remark.

Reacting to the comments, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state vice-president Trajano D'Mello accused D'Souza of committing "heresy" and demanded that the Goa Church seek an explanation from the deputy chief minister for calling himself a "Christian Hindu".

"D'Souza has committed heresy by claiming he is a Christian-Hindu. The Church should demand an explanation from him and if he fails to explain this term, then he should be ex-communicated from the religion," Nationalist Congress Party leader Trajano D'Mello told a press conference at the party's state headquarters Saturday.

D'Mello claimed that the deputy chief minister has been brainwashed by the BJP. "What he has said is nothing less than sacrilege and an insult to all Christians," D'Mello said.

Earlier, a Church official lashed out at the two ministers, saying those who refer to India as a "Hindu nation" had no place in the country.

"... if a minister has made such statements, he has to be taken to task by the government. Because he is going against the constitution of the country," Fr. Maverick Fernandes said.

"We have it very clearly mentioned in the preamble (of the Indian constitution) that we are a secular nation. Anybody dreaming of such desires should be taken to task because their place is not in this nation," he further said.

Maverick Fernandes further said the remarks only go on to expose the "ignorance of the person" who made them and that the ministers were straying from the oath they had sworn to protect the constitution of the country.

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