Kerala: Two prominent Syrian church priests join BJP

Kottayam: Two priests and a functionary of a prominent Syrian Church in Kerala have formally joined BJP, giving a boost to the saffron party’s bid to reach out to minorities in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.

Fr Geevarghese Thomas Kizhakkedam, a 43-year-old vicar of a Jacobite Syrian Church near Pala, joined BJP on Saturday along with deacon Andrews Mangalath and another priest Fr Thomas Kulathumkal.

Deacon is a post just below the rank of a priest in the religious order.

Fr Kizhakkedam said more people from the minority community are ready to join the party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

They were welcomed to the party fold by its Kerala state president P S Sreedharan Pillai and district unit chief N Hari at a function here on Saturday.

Talking to PTI, Kizhakkedam said he has been a follower of BJP since 1997, two years after joining an institute near Anand in Gujarat for pursuing a BCA course.

He said the BJP is not a communal outfit, as being alleged by “so called secular parties” like Congress and BJP.

“I am convinced that BJP is the party that represents all sections of society. The party-led governments are pro-poor and take care of the needs of each and every section of the society,” he said.

Recalling his personal experience when Narendra Modi took over as Gujarat Chief Minister in 2001, he said he had applied for a ration card and the officer concerned sought a bribe. It was soon after Modi became Chief Minister.

“I wrote to him complaining about the official. I got a reply from the Chief Minister’s office in seven days, informing me that my ration card is ready. Can we think about such a prompt action in Kerala? Such was the quality of his governance,” the Kizhakkedam said.

The priest claimed that more Christian priests had contacted him, expressing interest in associating with the BJP.

Asked whether he was willing to accept any post in the party, Kizhakkedam said he joined BJP without aspirations for any post and added that he was ready to accept whatever responsibilities were given to him to serve the party.

“But that should not become a hindrance to my responsibilities as a parish priest,” he said.

BJP district president Hari alleged that minorities in Kerala, including Christians and Muslims, constituting nearly 50 per cent of the state’s population, were being misled by the state’s prominent political forces, including Congress and the Left.

“Now they have realised the truth. They understand that the anti-BJP propaganda unleashed by these parties in the state is fake. We are certain that more people will come forward to join BJP. The response we get from these sections of society is overwhelming,” Hari said.