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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

J P Nadda focuses on Christians in Kerala speech, as BJP taps into ‘fears’

Nadda’s reference to “Christian concerns” is another attempt by the party to gain the support of the powerful minority community in Kerala.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: May 8, 2022 7:57:29 am
BJP national president J P Nadda being welcomed by the members of his party’s Kerala unit, Friday. (Twitter @JPNadda)

While addressing a public meeting in Kozhikode on Friday, BJP national president J P Nadda raised the issue of “discomfort among Christians over demographic changes in Kerala and narcotic jihad’’.

Nadda’s reference to “Christian concerns” is another attempt by the party to gain the support of the powerful minority community in Kerala. The BJP, which has so far failed to get a regional Christian party into the NDA’s fold, has been wooing Christians in the state by playing into fears of Islamic fundamentalism. Christians, along with Muslims, form a major chunk of the voter base of the Congress-led UDF.

To further capitalise on the widening rift between the two communities, Nadda accused the ruling CPI(M) government of “providing patronage to Islamic terrorism”. It was also an attempt to ensure that the ruling party does not cash in on the growing disengagement of the Christian community with the Congress.

The “demographic change” which Nadda referred to is among the issues raised by many Churches across the Christian spectrum, and is linked to Church’s claims of “love jihad”.

As per the Kerala government’s Vital Statistics Report 2019, Kerala’s crude birth rate declined marginally to 13.79 in 2019 from 14.10 in 2018.

The issue of ‘narcotic jihad’ was first raised by Catholic Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt in September last year. He has said that young men and women of the Christian community and other non-Muslim faiths were being lured and targeted through “love jihad” and “narcotic jihad” in the state. And, unlike the Congress and CPI(M), the BJP had then supported the bishop.

Last week, the BJP also extended support to senior politician P C George when he was booked over a hate speech against Muslims. In the past months, the party has also been speaking about ‘love jihad’ at church venues, to reach out to Christian voters.

Recently, the BJP floated the Association of Christian Trust Services (ACTS) — a grievance redressal forum to take Christian concerns to the Central government — which has BJP Kerala in-charge C P Radhakrishnan as its chairman.

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As per BJP sources, at a recent meeting, bishops and senior clergy of various churches had raised many issues which they wanted the Union government to look into. “They wanted Christians to get a share of all minority rights in proportion to the size of the population. Churches are also concerned about restrictions on FCRA accounts as several Church entities had lost their FCRA registration since BJP came to power at the Centre. Bishops also wanted a stand in favour of farmers with regard to ending the wildlife menace that is damaging their crops,’’ sources said.

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