Rama Krishna Sangem
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with eight top heads of churches in Kochi, Kerala, on April 24, Monday, is a clever move aimed at winning Christian votes in the poll bound Karnataka. Though the meeting was scheduled a few weeks before by the local BJP leaders, it has an intended purpose of dispelling fears among the minority Christians in Karnataka, mostly in Bangalore city and Mangalore region.
Kerala has Christian population of around 18.2 per cent and their influence extends beyond their numerical strength. As Christianity entered India through Kerala and Malabar region, it has deep roots in every sphere of life. Christians also have their presence in large numbers in Southern coastal belt of Karnataka. There are reports that they feel insecure with BJP which is trying to retain power for a second term now.
Part of BJP’s outreach exercise
RSS and BJP have been making efforts for sometime to reach out to new segments of society to expand their electoral footprint. Taking BJP’s Christian outreach programme to the next level, PM Narendra Modi met heads of eight Christian denominations in the state on Monday evening. Each of the denominations command a sizable population in Kerala as well as outside.
The Church leaders shared their concerns related to the community and the state’s development with the PM during the meeting held at Hotel Taj Malabar in Kochi.
The Church delegation included Syro-Malabar Church Major Archbishop Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, Malankara Orthodox Church supreme head Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Mathews III, Jacobite Church head Metropolitan Joseph Mor Gregorios, Knanaya Catholic Archeparchy of Kottayam Bishop Mathew Moolakkat, Chaladean Syrian Church of the East Metropolitan of India and South Gulf Countries Mar Awgin Kuriakose, Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, Archbishop of Verapoly Latin Catholic Church Joseph Joy Kalathiparambil and Knanaya Syrian Church Chief Metropolitan Kuriakose Mor Severios.
An eye on Modi’s US tour
Sources say, this meeting has some connections with PM Modi’s upcoming visit to US in June last week, where he will meet President Joe Biden at White House. Already some Christian organisations have been making noises about problems faced by Christian minorities and Churches in India, after BJP came to power in 2014. Modi’s meeting with Bishops is also mean to assuage their ruffled feelings and provide some assurances.