Kerala Church showers praises on Modi

published on December 25, 2013

 In what is being viewed as a sign of change in the attitude of religious minorities, particularly the Christian Church, in Kerala towards the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the powerful Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church on Monday showered praises on him for his development programmes in his State.

Stating that the development programmes Modi was implementing in Gujarat were praiseworthy, Baselius Mar Thoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church, said in Kottayam that the Church’s adherents in Gujarat were holding Modi’s administration in high esteem.

“Many believers belonging to the Orthodox Church run industries in Gujarat. They are saying that the development programmes of Modi are exemplary. I am told that their businesses have never got trapped in red-tapism under his administration,” the Catholicos said after meeting a delegation of the Kottayam district BJP, who called on him on the occasion of Christmas.

Going a step further, the Orthodox Church head also said that there was nothing wrong in supporting Modi provided he could show religious tolerance. “By saying this, I am not trying to extol any one person. What I am saying is that if Modi has these qualities — like religious tolerance — he deserves to be supported,” he said.

The people of Kerala had been putting up with several political parties for the past several years, the Catholicos said, adding that those who wanted to see a change in this scenario might support the BJP. Orthodox Church adherents constitute 25 lakhs out of the total 65 lakh Christians in Kerala.

That the Catholicos was perhaps taking a clear stand on the political scenario of the State with his statements on Modi was apparent from the criticisms he leveled against the Congress-led UDF and its Government in Kerala. Interestingly, the Orthodox Church was not much enthusiastic about supporting the Congress in the 2011 Assembly election.

Speaking about the present condition of the scam-beleaguered and feud-riddled UDF, the Catholicos said, “Everything (about the ruling front) is in a fluid stage. Let us hope it will go on like this,” he said. The church head said that he would adopt a wait-and-watch policy on how the UDF was going to perform in the Lok Sabha election.

He said that even the lower strata of the Orthodox Church adherents were convinced that the consideration the Church deserved had not been given by the UDF Government. UDF Government itself was making its nature all the more evident through its own deeds on a day-to-day basis, he said.

“It seems that the Orthodox Church is having a change in its attitude towards the BJP and Modi. In a sense, certain other sections of minorities in Kerala also are showing the same attitude. Even the Catholics, the strongest section of Christians in the State, do not have much objection to Modi’s development model,” said a senior journalist of a pro-Church newspaper.

Kerala Government’s Chief Whip PC George, also the vice-chairman of the Catholic Church-backed Kerala Congress (M), had stirred a hornets’ nest on December 15 by flagging off the Modi-conceived Unity Run marathon in Kottayam, triggering rumours that his party had plans to enter into an understanding with the BJP.

In reference to this incident, Finance Minister KM Mani, chairman of the Kerala Congress (M), advised George on Monday that he should participate in public functions after examining their politics but it was significant that he did not criticise George’s participation in the inaugural of the marathon.

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