Christian votes to play decisive role in Kandhamal | india | Hindustan Times
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Christian votes to play decisive role in Kandhamal

With voters divided on religious lines in Kandhamal after the riots, which claimed at least 43 lives, Christian votes hold the key to victory, though most of them are in no mood to exercise their franchise.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2009 22:19 IST

With voters divided on religious lines in Kandhamal after the riots, which claimed at least 43 lives, Christian votes hold the key to victory, though most of them are in no mood to exercise their franchise.

The Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency, which comprises assembly seats like Phulbani, Baliguda, G Udaygiri, Daspalla, Bhanjanagar, Kantamal and Boudh, has about 75,000 Christian voters.

"I doubt whether many Christian voters in Kandhamal will venture out to vote as they are still in the grip of fear," says Cuttack-Chubaneswar Archbishop Raphael Cheenath.

However, trying to cash in on the Hindutva wave after the riots, the BJP has fielded Ashok Sahu, who is the president of the Orissa unit of the Hindu Jagaran Samukshya (HJS) and known for his anti-Christian stand.

Sahu was also a strong supporter of the slain VHP leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati, who was killed allegedly by Maoists, sparking attacks on Christians.

The Kandhamal seat has witnessed Congress candidates winning six times in the past while non-Congress ones grabbed the seat eight times.