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Nadda privately meets Kerala Catholic archbishops; BJP-backed Christian organisation on cards

Official sources attribute the development to the proposed formation of a BJP-backed Christian organisation in Kerala

September 27, 2022 02:43 pm | Updated 06:15 pm IST - KOTTAYAM

Apart from BJP National President J.P. Nadda, State President K. Surendran, Union Minister V. Muraleedharan and senior leader Prakash Javadekar was also there at the meeting

Apart from BJP National President J.P. Nadda, State President K. Surendran, Union Minister V. Muraleedharan and senior leader Prakash Javadekar was also there at the meeting | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Amidst reports over the Bharatiya Janata Party stepping up its efforts to woo the Catholic vote bank in Central Travancore, a closed-door meeting held between the party’s national president J.P. Nadda with two catholic Archbishops in Kottayam a couple of days ago is triggering widespread speculation in the political circles.

Official sources said the meeting, conducted on the premises of the Caritas hospital near Kottayam, followed inauguration of the newly constructed BJP district Committee office at Nagampadom on Sunday evening. Lasting just less than an hour, it was attended by the Knanaya Catholic Archbishop Mathew Moolakkatt and the Metropolitan Archbishop of Changanassery, Mar Joseph Perumthottam.

The BJP delegation, on the other hand, also comprised the union Minister V. Muraleedharan, the party’s newly-appointed Kerala Prabhari Prakash Javadekar, BJP State president K. Surendran and its district president Lijin Lal.

Potential coalition

When contacted, a spokesperson of the Changanassery Archdiocese said the meeting was strictly informal. “It was more of a personal visit and nothing else,’’ quipped the official. The BJP district president Mr. Lal, at the same time, chose not to comment on the development.

While both the church as well as the BJP leadership have remained tight-lipped on what transpired during the discussion, official sources attributed the development to the proposed formation of a BJP-backed Christian organisation in Kerala. A meeting of the Bharatiya Christian Sangamam (BCS), which was held on September 17 at Kochi, is widely regarded as a primary step in this direction.

Political leverage

The BJP has been consistent in its attempts to leverage the key issues raised by the Catholic church in Kerala such as ‘love jihad’ and ‘narcotic jihad’ to its benefit. While opinions have differed as to the actual intention behind those statements, the stance of the Catholic church on such issues has been generally interpreted as the culmination of an incremental strategy in raising the perceived threats from `jihadists’ in the public domain.

The strategy has also caused an unprecedented mobilisation of the Christian groups in the State lately while the BJP has been keen on lending political legitimacy to the concerns raised by such outfits. The ruling Left Democratic front and the opposition United Democratic Front, on their part,  have continued to pin their hopes on the Kerala Congress factions on their respective sides, which essentially thrive on the Christian vote bank in the region.

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