Few days after 47 Christian families along with Fr Shaiju Kurien, the Secretary of the Orthodox Church Nilakkal joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party has alleged that the new members were subjected to cyber attacks by people belonging to the Congress and the CPI(M).
Discomfort In LDF And UDF
The reason is simple — both the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) are not happy with members of the Christian community joining the BJP.
While Christians have traditionally been supporters of the UDF, a substantial number also support the LDF, especially after the Kerala Congress (Mani) joined that front.
The discomfort at the latest developments, of both fronts, is now coming out through the statements of their leaders.
CPI(M) minister Saji Cherian's remarks stating that the bishops who met the Prime Minister at a Christmas programme forgot about Manipur after having cake and grape juice and leader of opposition V D Satheesan's remarks stating that the BJP in Kerala is like "a wolf in sheep's clothing, infiltrating Christian homes" can be seen as a means to keep Christians away from the BJP.
Cherian's remarks were criticised by the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), which stated that it was unbecoming of a minister to make such remarks.
The Congress had earlier likened the BJP's Sneha Yatra to the 'kiss of Judas', who had betrayed Jesus Christ.
Notably, the BJP's outreach to Christians in Kerala follows its successful attempts to canvass the community's support in states like Goa, Meghalaya and Nagaland.
Support Of Christians Important To All Political Parties
Christians comprise a large part of the population in five central districts of Kerala — Ernakulam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam, which have 42 assembly constituencies.
According to the 2011 census, Hindus are 54.73 per cent, Christians make up 18.38 per cent and Muslims are 26.6 per cent of the population. Together, Hindus and Christians make up 73.11 per cent.
Support from Christians could have resulted in the victories of some BJP candidates, who had come second in the 2021 assembly elections.
For the Congress, Christian support is crucial so that it does not have to overly rely on its alliance partner, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).
The victory of the LDF in the 2021 assembly elections was facilitated in part by Kerala Congress (Mani) switching over from the UDF to the communists' side.
Assumed Monopoly Over Minority Votes
Even as the Congress as well as the CPI(M) claim to endorse 'tolerance' and 'inclusiveness', a clear shift in the voting patterns of the Christian community in north-eastern India, Goa, and now in Kerala, is making the INDI Alliance constituents uneasy.
The road ahead for the BJP in Kerala remains tough, but the reactions of the UDF and LDF suggest that the party is on the right track.
S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!