CPI(M), Congress Term BJP’s Kerala Christian Outreach ‘Hypocrisy’
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: pxhere
The BJP’s newfound love for Kerala’s Christians is growing. The party’s state general secretary MT Ramesh recently said that some portions of second RSS sarsanghchalak MS Golwalkar’s book Vicharadhara branding Christians, Muslims and Communists as “internal threats” are not relevant today.
Ramesh was responding to Kerala PWD minister PA Mohammed Riyas’s question that if the BJP is so eager to befriend Christians, would it disown the Vicharadhara.
Other political parties criticised the BJP for its intention after its leaders visited several churches on Easter Sunday given the increasing attacks on Christians in other states, including neighbouring poll-bound Karnataka.
The BJP is desperate for an elusive victory in Kerala in the 2024 General Elections for which it relies on a few heads of churches in central Kerala.
Tellicherry archbishop MJ Pamplany, who offered support to the BJP if the Centre takes care of rubber price, echoed similar views on Vicharadhara and was supported by Geevarghese Mar Yulios, the metropolitan bishop of Kunnamkulam Diocese of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
The LDF and the UDF accused the BJP of resorting to pressure tactics on the heads of churches for an election win.
IS VICHARADHARA IRRELEVANT
After failing to retain its only seat in the Kerala Assembly in 2021, the BJP wants to win over minorities. After discussions with several Muslim bodies in Kerala, the party turned to Christians, who constitute around 18.38% of the population.
They have considerable influence in the central Kerala districts of Ernakulam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam. Christian voters are the traditional support base of the Congress-led UDF. Though the LDF won a considerable number of seats in the 2021 Assembly election, the UDF is still banking on the votes of Christians in the Lok Sabha Election.
After the BJP announced an outreach programme as a confidence-building measure and met families and key archbishops on Easter, Riyas demanded the party’s Kerala unit disown the Sangh Parivar ideology and the Vicharadhara.
Riyas also demanded that the BJP leadership explain its stand on RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat’s cover story in Organiser’s January issue titled ‘Disastrous Celebrations’, which was about Christmas and New Year.
“Will those who rejected the Vicharadhara reject Mohan Bhagwat’s stand in the cover story of the Organiser,” the young CPI(M) leader asked at a press conference in Kochi on Tuesday.
WHY ARE CHRISTIAN ORGANISATIONS PROTESTING
CPI(M) secretariat member M Swaraj reminded churches about the protest held by Christian organisations in Delhi against the increasing attacks on the community in recent years.
“On April 12, several churches and organisations will protest in Azad Maidan in Mumbai. I am sure that the bishop is well aware of this. The organisations have mentioned the increasing attacks on Christians by Sangh Parivar members. I do not understand why church leaders support the BJP? he posted on Facebook.
Swaraj also questioned if the bishop accepted the Golwalkar’s views in the Vicharadhara. “The attacks on minorities are the Sangh Parivar’s long-term agenda as prescribed in Vicharadhara and other texts. The bishop should withdraw his comments,” he added.
Opposition leader VD Satheesan slammed the BJP for trying to woo Christians in Kerala and yet attacking them in other states, including Karnataka. The senior Congress leader also listed the attacks on Christians and other minorities during important festivals.
Pamplany was the first to support the BJP on the condition of ensuring a minimum support price for rubber. Former MP Sebastin Paul said, “After their abysmal performance in the Assembly election, the BJP is desperate to win, at least, one seat in the state in the 2024 election.”
Accused the BJP of attempting to isolate Muslims in the state by getting closer to Christians, Paul told Newsclick that the party had “publicly expressed its intentions on elections. It is unfortunate to see the cardinals and archbishops supporting the BJP despite the increasing attacks on Christians and churches”.
Paul explained why some church leaders supported the BJP, saying, “Some of the leaders are facing cases, including land dealings. We all know how the BJP government uses agencies to arm-twist people in its favour.”
The CPI(M) and Congress had earlier called upon the people to reject the BJP’s “double standards” and protect Kerala’s secular character.
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