New Delhi, May 22: A Delhi Archbishop’s ‘pray for nation’ letter to the Christians has started off a political controversy inviting the wrath of the political bigwigs across the country. The letter mentions a “turbulent political atmosphere” in the country and asks the Christians to “pray for the nation ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections“. The Archbishop, Anil Couto, also asked the fellow Christians to hold prayers and fasts on Fridays for the sake of the country.

“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 May 13,” he said in the letter dated May 8.

The letter had one prayer attached to the circular which read: “May the ethos of true democracy envelop our elections with dignity and the flames of honest patriotism enkindle our political leaders. This is our cry, Heavenly Father, in these troubled times as we see the clouds eclipsing the light of truth, justice and freedom.”

Reacting to the letter sent out by the Archbishop, Union Minister Rajnath Singh said, “I have not seen the letter, but I want to say India is one of those countries where minorities are safe and no one is allowed to discriminate on the basis of caste & religion.”

Terming the letter as an attempt to instigate communities, BJP spokesperson Shaina NC said, “It is wrong to try and instigate castes or communities. You can tell them to vote for right candidate or party but to suggest voting for one party and not another and term yourself as secular vs pseudo-secular is unfortunate.”

Cunto, however, defended the letter saying that it had nothing to do with the Modi government. “Prayer for country is always there and it is a very private matter. We have only asked our churches to spend one day a week to pray and it’s a private matter and no one can interfere with it. We are concerned with atmosphere, issues plaguing the country. It’s only a request from various people to pray for the country,” he told News18.