THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While the BJP celebrated Anil Antony’s rise to its highest ranks as a symbol of acceptance among minority religions, many longstanding minority party members remain dissatisfied with the overall level of acceptance and representation within the party. State leadership attributes the success of their minority outreach to the inclusion of high-ranking Christian-origin bureaucrats and the lateral entry of Anil, the son of a prominent Congress leader, whom they see as a valuable addition to their ranks.
However, it seems that everything is not harmonious for minorities within the BJP. Minority party members at the district and lower levels point out a significant absence of Christian representation at both the state and district levels, with only state general secretary George Kurien being a prominent Christian leader among the 56 state office bearers.
Similarly, among the 14 district presidents, there is no office bearer representing the Christian community. “Even in districts like Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, or Idukki, the state leadership couldn’t find a Christian leader to take charge of the organisation. If we consider the mandalam (local administrative unit) presidents, there’s also a shortage of community representation,” a senior BJP leader said. Many party workers and local leaders who have long been associated with the BJP are dissatisfied with the way newly admitted privileged-class leaders, often kin of prominent figures, are awarded prominent positions.
Sources reveal that even heads of the Catholic Church are disappointed about being bypassed in the selection of important positions in institutions like the minority commissions. Furthermore, an emerging disconnect between the new generation of BJP-RSS workers and the minority community is evident.
“Previously, the local-level workers and leaders had some level of affinity toward members from other religions who joined the party. However, now, workers from our community often complain of ultranationalism, with some workers maintaining a hostile attitude towards other religions. Rituals like prayers(Hindu) before party meetings have also increased recently. Christian youths are also quite religious,” a district leader of the BJP from the minority community in Kottayam said.
The Catholic Church in Idukki escalated the situation when it relieved a priest, Fr Kuriakose Mattom, from parish duties after he joined the BJP. “We granted him membership based on his interest in joining the party. However, the Archdiocese took action against him. There are people from the Christian community who want to join the party. It will take some time now,” said BJP Idukki district resident K S Aji.
The state leadership’s failure to effectively counter the CPM campaign on the Manipur violence issue has introduced new challenges to the Christian outreach program. A Christian leader from Pathanamthitta commented, “Kerala is an important state where the BJP should have initiated its counter-campaign on Manipur violence much earlier. However, the state leadership faltered. Now there are misconceptions about the central government’s role, and we are unable to convince even our family members.”
rumblings of discontent
Only state general secretary George Kurien being a prominent Christian leader among the 56 state office-bearers.
Among 14 district presidents, there is no office-bearer representing Christian