Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Kerala Bishops’ Message Pre-poll Dampener For BJP

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Kerala Bishops’ Message Pre-poll Dampener For BJP

There is an atmosphere of fear in society and Christian institutions are under grave threat, people were told in messages emanating from archbishops and heads of the various sections of the Christian community

Shankar RajUpdated: Saturday, March 30, 2024, 10:04 AM IST
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Thiruvananthapuram: The prospects of the BJP weaning away the Christian vote in Kerala don’t look too bright if one were to go strictly by the message emitted by the bishops on the occasion of Friday. There is an atmosphere of fear in society and Christian institutions are under grave threat, people were told in messages emanating from archbishops and heads of the various sections of the Christian community.

This came as an unpleasant surprise for the BJP, which was expecting the support of the community following the various meetings held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with senior bishops. The archbishops referred to the situation in Manipur and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and called these developments as dangerous. “If a deprived person or anyone else feels helpless and is forced to live in fear, it only shows the failure of the government,” said a bishop in reference to the Manipur incident and attack on churches.

Impact on Lok Sabha elections

This stand taken by the heads of the Christian communities may sway the outcome in the Lok Sabha elections, polling for which will be held in less than a month in Kerala. This is especially so as the community may opt for the Left Democratic Front which has taken up CAA as a major political plank. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has been holding various rallies against the implementation of CAA in Muslim-dominated north Kerala and the message has also percolated to south Kerala where Christians dominate. Christians are a dominant force, especially in south Kerala and constitute 18.4 per cent or 61.41 lakh of the state’s population. Unlike Muslims, who vote as a bloc, Christians, like the dominant Hindu community, is splintered. However, this time they may vote as a bloc.

“The Christian community is not a monolithic block. Pluralism has been an important component of the Christian make up. It has resisted the herd mentality,” Fr Paul Thelakat, former spokesman of the SyroMalabar Church, was quoted in the media as saying. Despite this, the community may vote as a bloc this time as it feels “threatened”. However, Union minister V Muralidheeran said there was no threat to the Christian community, which is safe under the BJP regime. In the earlier elections, the Syro-Malabar Catholics, who make up 23.46 lakh (38.20 per cent of Christians in the state), leaned towards the Congress, while the Jacobite segment of the Malankara Church had a soft corner for the ruling Left front. The Jacobite Syrian Christian community has 4.83 lakh members and the Orthodox Syrian community about 4.94 lakh. Together, they form a formidable force of more than 9.7 lakh voters.

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