NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Nar - endra Modi’s guest on the occasion of Janmashtami was a priest in saf - fron robes. In a politico-religious twist, the guest in the saffron robes wore a cross. The president of Cath - olic Bishops Cardinal Baselios Cl - eemis, on behalf of the Indian Church, extended support to Modi for his agenda of good governance in a meeting held last week. The Catholic country-head passed the word down to the folks to ‘’set aside their religious differences for devel - opment.”
The meeting between Modi and Cardinal Cleemis was given promi - nence by “Radio Vaticana”, the of - ficial broadcasting service of the Vatican. The changing political-re - ligious scenario in the country shows an increasing bonhomie between the BJP and Christian leaders. Both sides are careful not to raise touchy issues like Kandhamal and conver - sion. The Cardinal has requested the PM to invite Pope Francis to India. The issue and the timing of the meeting between Modi and the Car - dinal assume significance amidst rumours of Kerala Congress leader K M Mani, the most prominent Catholic face in the Congress-led UDF Government in Kerala, joining the BJP.
“There is an increasing bonhomie between the Christian leaders and the BJP. It is bound to increase regardless of K M Mani joining hands with the BJP,” said a Christian Congress leader. Cardinal Cleemis said that it is “immature to discuss hypothetical questions” as there has been no ma - jor incident of sectarian violence in the country after the Modi Govern - ment came to power.“He (Modi) has just begun the rule. When the Prime Minister declares moratorium on violence based on religion, it is not right for us to read anything beyond that,” he said. The picture wasn’t this rosy a few months ago. Narendra Modi was a PM candidate and he had ap - proached the same CBCI seeking a chance to address their conference where Bishops from all over the country had assembled. Modi had wanted to make use of the opportu - nity to send a message to the minor - ity communities, especially Chris - tians, by addressing the Bishops’ meet in the election season. His re - quest was turned down.