Making a specific reference to the Gujarat polls, Archbishop Thomas Macwan said: "The results of this election are significant and it will have its repercussion and reverberation throughout our beloved nation. It will influence the future course of our country. We are aware that the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake."
The Archbishop's communique to the clergy added that "nationalist forces are on the verge of taking over the country. The election results of the Gujarat State Assembly can make a difference".
Christians, according to the 2011 census, accounted for 0.52 per cent of the population in Gujarat. The electoral impact of the letter is unlikely to cause concern among the "nationalist forces" - on the contrary, they are certain to cite the contents to polarise voters further. But its potential to damage the image of the Narendra Modi government in the West cannot be discounted.
Archbishop Macwan said in the letter: "Human rights are being violated. The constitutional rights are being trampled. Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, church personnel, faithful or institutions. There is a growing sense of insecurity among the minorities, OBCs... poor."
The letter added: "The Bishops of Gujarat State request you to organise prayer services in your parishes and convents so that we may have such people elected in the Gujarat State Assembly who would remain faithful to our Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any sort of discrimination."
"Time and again, the rosary has proved to be a protective hand. History bears witness to this statement. It saved Europe during the victory at Lepanto (the battle in 1571 when the fleet of the Ottoman Empire was defeated) from being taken over by people of other faith. Communist governments and dictators in a number of countries have been tumbled in the past through the protecting hand of our beloved Mother Mary.... It will save our country from nationalist forces too, " he said.
'No intention to influence voters'
As his comments stoked controversy, Archbishop Thomas Macwan told ABP News that his letter wasn't meant to influence voters of the Christian community.
"Whenever the need arises we write letters to our community members. Even during floods we appealed to people, it is a prayer. Our indication is not towards any political party. By nationalists forces, we meant narrow-minded people. There's no intention to influence people to not vote for a particular party,"