In north Kerala’s migrant settler belt, BJP warms up to Christians
In 2023, Mercy’s* family, from a migrant settler belt in Kasaragod district of Kerala, faced an unexpected storm when her 26-year-old daughter entered into a relationship with a Muslim youth. The family were traditionally supporters of Congress. But after the intervention of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which found a political wedge in what should have been a private affair to be settled within four walls of their home, they found themselves drawn closer to the party.
Mercy’s husband Alex*, who was close to the church, was dead against his daughter marrying a Muslim. “The Muslim community has hidden interests in building such relationships. BJP is the only party that speaks about it openly,” he told TNM. Mercy wasn’t against the relationship but felt intimidated when political outfits – the BJP’s Minority Morcha and the Christian Association and Alliance For Social Change (CASA), an organisation accused of Islamophobia – visited their home, airing concerns about ‘Love Jihad'.
The fear of ‘Love Jihad’, a bogey created and kept alive mostly by groups aligned to right-wing Hindutva to perpetuate a belief that Muslim men are deliberately luring women of other faith, has been a concern for Christians since 2009. The BJP in Kerala has tapped into the collective anxiety of the community by amplifying such narratives every time an interfaith marriage has happened between a Christian woman and a Muslim youth.’