“We have great regard and respect for all communities, caste and creed and we respect all archbishops of the country, including Kolkata’s. I think whatever they have said, they have said correctly. It is a fact,” she said while speaking to reporters at the state secretariat, Nabanna.
The letter, dated 8 May, read, “We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation…It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the general elections. As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have new government let us begin a prayer campaign for our country from 13 May…we observe a day of fast every Friday of the week by forgoing at least one meal and offering our penance and all our sacrifices for our spiritual renewal and that of our nation”.
Her support for the archbishop came shortly after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi said India does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion or sect. Singh said such things will never be allowed in the country.
“I have not seen the statement verbatim but all I can say is that India is a country where there is no discrimination against anyone on the basis of caste, sect or religion. Such a thing cannot be allowed,” Singh said.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said Couto was calling people for a prayer and saying that the values of the constitution of secular democracy had to be protected.
Amid reactions to his letter, Couto said every government that came to power should protect the rights and freedom of the people.
“Elections concern us. Therefore when we talk, we talk about the elections because the government concerns us. We cannot be apart from the government. We pray that we have such a government that cares for the freedom of the people, rights and welfare of the Christian community,” he said.
Father Robinson, secretary to Couto, said the letter was issued on 8 May and had already been read out at all the parishes. He went on to add that there was nothing wrong with this letter.