Updated January 1st, 2024 at 23:47 IST
Christian group condemns Kerala Minister's critique over PM Modi's Christmas celebration
The Minister also criticised certain Christian priests in Kerala for affiliating with the BJP.
Kerala: The Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) has strongly criticised Cultural Affairs Minister Saji Cherian for his recent comments about Christian priests' alleged silence regarding the Manipur violence while attending a Christmas program at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official residence in New Delhi.
Father Jacob Palackapilly, the spokesperson for KCBC, rebuked the minister, highlighting the significance of his position and condemning his remarks. "Saji Cherian and KT Jaleel are using the same dictionary given to them during party classes. We do not need lessons from someone who was ousted for violating his constitutional oath," he stated firmly.
Palackapilly, speaking to the media later, clarified that the Christmas event was a reception hosted by the Prime Minister to discuss the contributions of Christians to the nation. He urged against a negative interpretation and emphasized the participation of Christian priests and bishops, underscoring their dedication to the country.
What did Saji Cherian say?
Cherian's remarks came during the inauguration of a local committee office of the CPI(M) in Alappuzha Punnapra North, where he mocked the bishops attending the Prime Minister's program. He alleged that they conveniently overlooked the Manipur issue while enjoying grape juice and cake. Cherian accused them of neglecting the violence affecting their community members.
The minister questioned whether the bishops raised the Manipur violence issue with Prime Minister Modi and criticised certain Christian priests in Kerala for affiliating with the BJP. Neither the BJP nor the bishops have responded to Cherian's allegations yet.
"During a Christmas interaction at his residence, PM Modi praised the Christian community, acknowledging their significant role in the freedom movement and various fields," Palackapally noted. He highlighted the values of compassion, inclusivity, and justice advocated by Jesus Christ as guiding principles in the government's developmental endeavours.
IUML State President faces backlash too. But Why?
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) State President, Panakkad Shihab Thangal, too encountered a backlash for his efforts at inter-religious outreach. Thangal hosted representatives from churches around his residence in Malappuram as part of the Christmas celebrations, drawing criticism from within the community. Thangal, a prominent cleric within the community, recently participated in the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) celebration, an event that also saw the presence of BJP President K Surendran. However, his involvement in these events has sparked discontent within his own community.
CPM MLA KT Jaleel derided the incident, quipping that it seems Thangal might reach Ayodhya on the Ram Mandir inauguration eve itself. The KCBC too openly rebuked Jaleel's comments.
BJP exposes CPM hypocrisy
Responding to the criticism, BJP State President K Surendran pointed out the alleged hypocrisy of CPM leaders like Saji Cherian and KT Jaleel. "I fail to comprehend these politicians. They claim to support religious harmony, yet when a Muslim cleric collaborates with the BJP in an event hosted by Christians, they express outrage," Surendran stated. He clarified that BJP doesn't hold any political biases but disagrees with the political ideologies of the IUML. When asked about a potential alliance with the IUML, Surendran said that if the League aligns with PM Modi's development-oriented politics, it could be considered. “Right now, the politics of IUML is unacceptable,” he added.
Published January 1st, 2024 at 23:47 IST