The Bishops of Kerala’s Catholic Church today said it views with “openness” BJP chief Amit Shah’s recent bid to reach out to the Christians in the state, but made it clear that it could not agree with the “basic ideology” of the saffron party. Expressing anguish over the Centre’s ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) said the church will not accept a government that dictates what people should eat. Describing Shah as a “prominent leader”, KCBC president Susa Pakiam said the bishops’ meeting with Shah last week was cordial. He said the bishops discussed with Shah the minority rights. “We did not discuss politics. We had a friendly discussion on minorities and their rights. He said the government is 100 per cent committed to protecting the constitutional rights of minorities,” Pakiam said. “But, we will never accept a dictum on what we should eat or a government that dictates it. They (the BJP government) may try to impose their dictum as they are mighty. But we are not going to accept such decrees. For us, the Constitution is big,” he said.
Talking to reporters after the monsoon session of the KCBC here, the official, however, alleged rights of minorities were being violated in north India. He also said he had never expected Shah to meet the bishops. Pakiam further said the bishops welcome those who visit their homes. “We are dealing with openness,” he said. However, the KCBC chief said, “We (the Catholic Church) are still not in a position to agree with their (BJP’s) basic ideology.”
“Shah has assured us that the constitutional rights of the minorities would be protected,” he said. During his three-day Kerala visit last week, Shah had met senior bishops of different rites of Christians in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The KCBC also lashed out at the Kerala government’s new liquor policy, saying “consumption of liquor will increase if the bars which were closed, are opened in line with the new policy.”