A host of leaders cutting across political barriers seem to drop in on Bishops for apparently personal visits

Are Christian votes being stealthily wooed back amidst a Hindu resurgent vote in Kerala
Voices Kerala2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 - 16:42

In the middle of his Nava Kerala march, CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan made a detour to visit Marthoma Valiya Metropolita Philipose Mar Chysostom at Pathanamthitta. Maybe it suddenly dawned on Pinarayi to enquire about the failing health of the nonagenarian spiritual head right in the middle of his plans to rejuvenate Kerala with a communist yatra.

It was just a while ago we had pictures going viral on online media of Kerala BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan lying prostrate at the feet of Cardinal Baselios Cleemis to seek his blessings apparently due to the personal bonhomie they shared.

Just when you thought there was for the very first time in the history of the state, a possibility of a Hindu consolidated vote in Kerala, we have leaders sneaking off to strengthen their minority bonds in the state.

According to the 2011 census, Kerala has a population of around 3.3 crores of which Hindus constitute 54.73% against the nation-wide percentage of 79.8%, Muslims constitute 26.56% (India: 14.23%) and Christians comprise 18.38% (India: 2.16 %).

So obviously, right from the word ‘go’, Kerala has always witnessed a shameless pandering to, of the minorities, solely with an eye on their electoral votes.

And that the Hindu electorate had always been a fractured lot made things easier for the minorities with maybe just a few actual seats in the Assembly to call the shots, when it came to forming a government.

In such a scenario, Vellappally Natesan happened. To be more precise, his Sammatva Munneta yatra happened.

That’s when some Hindu leaders actually woke up to the possibility of forming a socially cohesive whole to try and capture electoral power in such a manner so as not to be at all dependent on which way the minority vote swung.

The BJP which is yet to make a mark in the state assembly elections was quick to jump onto Vellappally’s bandwagon and with shrewd political acumen managed to occupy the driver’s seat, with Vellappally hanging on for dear life.

Naturally, the ruling UDF as well as the Left front couldn’t in any way stomach the blooming of the lotus in a state which has long been their sole political playground to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting masses.

The drubbing at the hands of the BJP in the local body polls in November too couldn’t be hastily erased from their voters’ memory. So they did the next best thing.

Donning the robe of the sole saviour of the minorities –as is their usual stance come election time- both fronts are now trying to re-project themselves as the minorities' only hope for survival in Kerala.

So every day, we have one or the other Christian bishop in Kerala playing host to numerous political guests of varied party hues, while keeping their own political leaning-cards close to their chests.

The Church claims they don’t indulge in open politicking in the state, though with elections approaching, we have almost all parishes issuing a general electoral guideline manifesto which delineates the socio-political needs of Christians in Kerala.

That these manifestos usually end with a call to each church-goer to follow his or her own political conscience comes as the mandatory rider to divest the Church of any deliberate interference or actual indulgence in politics.

That’s what is called a masterstroke -I suppose- by someone who really knows how to play the game.

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