In a significant development, Fr. Shaiju Kurien, Secretary of Nilackal Orthodox Church, along with 47 Christian families, formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during the Christmas Sneha Sangamam event organised by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on December 30. The event, inaugurated by V. Muraleedharan, Union Minister of State for External & Parliamentary Affairs, witnessed a surge in BJP membership among the Christian community.
This move comes in the wake of a series of high-profile individuals aligning with the BJP in Kerala. Notable personalities, including Major Ravi, renowned filmmaker and actor, and C. Reghunath, a dedicated Congress worker with a five-decade-long tenure and former General Secretary of Kannur District Congress Committee, have recently joined the party. Major Ravi assumes the role of state vice president, while Reghunath becomes a national council member of the BJP.
Of particular significance is the fact that Reghunath contested against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as the UDF candidate in the 2021 assembly elections. These strategic additions to the BJP’s roster underscore a shift in the political landscape in favor of the party in the state.
Fr. Shaiju Kurien’s decision to join the BJP is seen as a response to the ongoing narrative propagated by both the ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), as well as other elements, labeling the BJP as communal, fanatic, and anti-minorities. This move challenges and counters the prevailing perceptions, adding diversity to the BJP’s support base in the state.
In an effort to strengthen its relationship with Christian communities, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) initiated a 10-day-long outreach programme called ‘Snehayatra.’ Launched on December 21, ahead of Christmas, the programme involves BJP leaders visiting Christian priests, families, and institutions.
Kerala BJP president K Surendran inaugurated the minority outreach event by meeting Major Archbishop Emeritus of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, George Alencherry. This marks a strategic move by the BJP to revive relations with the Church, which had faced strains following the Manipur riots. Other BJP leaders have also engaged with bishops and senior priests as part of the comprehensive outreach initiative.
It is noteworthy that the BJP previously introduced the ‘Snehayatra’ programme during Easter, and the party’s analysis suggests that the outreach effort has achieved considerable success in building bridges and fostering positive connections with Christian communities.
In a recent high-level meeting aimed at assessing readiness for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, BJP senior leader Amit Shah instructed party workers to concentrate their efforts on six crucial Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. The identified constituencies include Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur, which the BJP perceives as viable prospects for victory. Additionally, the party is directing its attention to Attingal, Mavelikkara, Pathanamthitta, and Palakkad.
According to a recent report, Shah is set to personally oversee the Lok Sabha preparedness for Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur. Speculations abound that actor-politician Suresh Gopi is likely to contest from Thrissur. Meanwhile, prominent leaders such as Nirmala Sitharaman and Rajeev Chandrashekharan are being considered as potential candidates for the capital city.