BJP’s Christian outreach gains momentum amid criticism by CPI(M), Congress

| Updated: 03 January, 2024 1:44 pm IST

ERNAKULAM: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala is making significant strides in its efforts to strengthen ties with the Christian communities ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. In a notable development, 42 Christian families, led by a diocese secretary of the Orthodox Church in Pathanamthitta, have joined the BJP, garnering attention from senior leaders within the state.

The community members officially became part of the national party during a Christmas function attended by Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan. The move is seen as a positive development for the BJP, but it has also sparked criticism from both the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] and the Congress.

CPI(M) leader and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a public meeting, derided the BJP’s outreach efforts, suggesting that they were merely aimed at securing electoral benefits ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Vijayan criticised those who, he claimed, were silent observers during instances of violence against certain sections of society but were now making friendly gestures for political gains. Although he did not explicitly reference the Prime Minister’s meeting, the remarks were seen in the context of the BJP’s political strategy.

The move to join the BJP by Fr. Shaiju Kurien, secretary of the Nilackal Diocese of the Orthodox church, did not face significant opposition within the church, unlike a previous instance involving a senior priest in Idukki district.

Fr. Kurien told The New Indian, “Our intention is to line up under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the BJP is the ruling party leading the nation towards progress.”

However, this development comes amid criticism from the Opposition, with LDF minister Saji Cherian questioning the bishops who attended the Prime Minister’s Christmas party. Within one day, the minister retracted his statement, in which he had commented that the bishops had given preference to ‘wine and cake’ over issues affecting the common man. He also criticised the Orthodox secretary, urging them not to forget the violence in Manipur and alleged attacks against minority communities.

“I have utmost respect for priests. I never wanted to hurt their feelings. Through my comments, I just wanted to convey my opinion that minority communities should always be vocal about the issues affecting their lives”, Cherian said.

The comments by Cherian drew a demand for an apology from the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council (KCBC). Cherian later retracted his statement, emphasising his respect for priests and clarifying that his intention was to convey the importance of minority communities speaking out about issues affecting their lives.

Discontentment among the Christian community against the main parties, Congress and CPI(M), has been brewing since protests and statements in support of Palestine, with leaders referring to Israel as a ‘terrorist nation.’ The BJP and the Sangh Parivar condemned this stance as ‘appeasement politics’ and saw an opportunity to make inroads within the Christian belt in Kerala.Joy Abraham, a senior advocate and social activist, opined that the BJP’s stance on supporting Israel amid attacks by a terror outfit has resonated positively within the Christian community.

BJP state leaders have reported social media attacks on Christian leaders and priests who have expressed support for the party. BJP state president K Surendran vowed to expose such forces and ensure protection against social media trolls.

Meanwhile, the Congress dismissed the BJP’s outreach attempts, labelling them as an eye-wash ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Also Read Story

Change at the top of NTA amid NEET controversy

Punjab Girl’s “Jannat Hai” Kashmir Video Melts Hearts

CSIR-UGC-NET postponed amid paper leak controversy

J&K Police close to busting terror network aiding infiltration