After the Prime Minister declared that the BJP’s next target is Kerala on the heels of the party’s success in the Christian-majority North Eastern states, the BJP is already making strategic moves in the southern state to realise Modi’s dream.
The party leadership has launched plans to bring the Christian community of central Kerala around to the NDA camp by helping to build a party focussing on the concerns of the farmers, particularly rubber planters, who predominantly belong to various church factions.
Plans to bring in Christian community into the fold
The state BJP leaders are understood to have already organised secret conclaves of church leaders in this regard.
Thalassery bishop Mar Pamplani created a furore on Sunday by announcing that the farming community would help BJP win at least one Lok Sabha seat from Kerala if the party promised to pay a support price of Rs300 per kg of rubber.
The ruling CPI-M and the Opposition UDF both criticised the bishop for pledging support of the Christian community to a party which has been accused of attacks against churches in various parts of the country. The BJP wholeheartedly welcomed the bishop’s ‘offer’.
It has now become clear that Bishop Mar Pamplani met with state BJP leaders last week ahead of his declaration of support to the BJP. Photographs of the meeting have now appeared on various news channels.
The bishop said as far as the community was concerned BJP was no pariah as it was the party that was in power at the Centre, which alone can help the rubber cultivators.
Rubber cultivators have been feeling restless about the failure of both fronts in Kerala to ameliorate their conditions, which to a large extent have been caused by the Centre’s policy of allowing free import of the commodity.
The BJP has struck a chord with the church leaders by raising the issue of ‘love jihad’, which has been an increasing concern for the Christian community. The Catholic bishop Mar Joseph Kallerangatt had some time back alleged that young Christians were being targeted through ‘love and narcotic jihad’.
The BJP has realised that without the support of the Christian community, the party can never hope to make it in Kerala. Past efforts to win such support, including the induction of Christians into responsible positions in the party and the government, have miserably failed.
That is what has prompted the idea of a new party of Christians, which currently have their loyalties divided between two factions of Kerala Congress. Traditionally, one of the two factions always stays with the ruling front.
The BJP’s game plan is said to be to float a new party under the leadership of prominent Christians who have left the Congress or the two Kerala Congress factions with the blessings of the church.