PM Modi’s ‘warm meeting’ with Pope focuses on Christian community as BJP eyes Goa, Manipur, Kerala

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Updated: October 31, 2021 9:41 AM

The church leadership, including some from the influential Roman Catholic Church, has expressed keenness in engaging with the party leadership. 

PM Modi gifts a book on India’s climate initiatives to Pope Francis. (Photo: PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Pope Francis and his invitation for the Pontiff to visit India gain significance amid the party eyeing the Christian community voters to retain power in poll-bound Goa and Manipur and to emerge as a formidable force in Kerala. 

According to a report by The Indian Express, a certain section in the Chrisitian community has cautioned Church leaders against trying to get closer to the BJP. However, the church leadership, including some from the influential Roman Catholic Church, has expressed keenness in engaging with the party leadership. 

The report quoted sources saying that there have been a series of dialogues between the two sides in Kerala in the last few months. 

The Church has welcomed the warm meeting between the prime minister and the Pope. Major Archbishop Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, who headed the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) and had requested Modi to invite the Pope to India in 2014, saw it as a fresh opportunity for dialogue between the government and the community.

The meeting “would bring in positive efforts in India for a mutual trust and collaboration between people of different religious groups. It would also contribute to the need for dialogue. We are very delighted that the Prime Minister has opened ways for a Papal visit to India”, Clemis told The Sunday Express.

Although BJP’s earlier attempts to woo the Christian community did not yield much results in Kerala, the party is now trying to capitalise the increasing disenchantment among Christian leaders in Kerala over growing influence of Muslims in Congress-led UDF.

“Decline of Congress and hostile attitude of CPI(M) towards many factions of the community, particularly the Orthodox church, and in sharing minority reservation benefits for which CPI(M) has taken an explicitly pro-Muslim stand, have created a conducive atmosphere for BJP in Kerala,”said R Balashankar, co-convener, training programme and publication in BJP.

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