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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Kerala polls: Jacobite Church says ‘open to BJP also’

The faction, which has lost many churches to rival Orthodox Church following the Supreme Court verdict, has held several rounds of talks with RSS-BJP leaders.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: March 10, 2021 2:28:56 pm
The Jacobite faction has a significant presence in 12 constituencies, mostly in Ernakulam district. (Wikimedia commons/Representational Image)

In a fresh hope to the BJP-led NDA looking for a toehold in Kerala’s Christian community ahead of the assembly elections, the Jacobite Church on Tuesday said, “We are open to BJP also.’’

The Jacobite Church, which has lost the control of many of its churches to the rival Orthodox Church following the implementation of a Supreme Court verdict in 2017, has already completed several rounds of talks with RSS-BJP leaders to find an amicable solution for the long-standing dispute between the two factions.

After the Jacobite Church synod, which met in Kochi to discuss its political stand in the upcoming assembly elections, Church spokesman Bishop Kuriakose Mar Theophilos said, “We want the faithful to give their vote for the Church. This is a matter of the survival of the Church and our faith. We have no untouchability towards any political front, including BJP. Discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS leaders have been fruitful. Further rounds of discussion with BJP-RSS leaders would continue. We would support whoever would ensure justice to the Jacobite Church. We have opened an opportunity for the BJP in this issue. We need their help now,’’ he said.

The Synod has left the final decision on the election strategy to the managing committee of the Church. Jacobite Church lost 52 of its churches to Orthodox segment in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict. Another 500-odd churches also would go to the hands of the Orthodox Church since the court verdict is binding on all churches under dispute.

The loss of churches and burial grounds had emerged as a major emotional issue for the Jacobite faithful in Kerala. In the recent civic body elections, Jacobite Church had openly supported CPI(M)-led LDF after the ruling coalition brought an ordinance which allowed faithful from both factions to use the same burial ground.

“Our stand had benefited the LDF in the civic body elections. We had expected that the LDF government would bring in another ordinance to resolve the dispute over the ownership of the churches. There was a provision in the Supreme Court order to enact a legislation, but the government jettisoned us. This is a critical matter for every Jacobite faithful. Hence, we are sure believers would go by our decision,’’ said the Bishop.

The Jacobite faction has a significant presence in 12 constituencies, mostly in Ernakulam district.

BJP sources said senior party leader and Mizoram Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai had taken the initiative to build a bridge with the Churches. “Discussions are still on. Our recent interventions in the church issues had helped the party come closer to Christians, which is critical for winning seats in Kerala,’’ said the sources.

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