Kerala: Wild card George pairs up with top seed Suresh Gopi in Modi 3.0 cabinet

George Kurian’s inclusion in the council of ministers was kept a secret till a few hours before the swearing-in
George Kurian,  Suresh Gopi
George Kurian, Suresh Gopi

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Buoyed by its impressive election performance in the state, the BJP national leadership sprang a surprise, swearing in senior leader George Kurian, a wild card, along with Suresh Gopi, the first elected Lok Sabha member of the saffron party from Kerala, as ministers of state in the Narendra Modi government on Sunday.

Though speculation was rife that Suresh would be given a cabinet berth, there was uncertainty until Sunday morning as the actor-MP stayed put at his residence in Thiruvananthapuram. Suresh, who had earlier indicated that he may not take up ministerial responsibilities owing to movie-related commitments, hurriedly left for the airport at 11.15 am.

Speaking to reporters, 65-year-old Suresh said Modi had instructed him to reach the national capital immediately. “He (Modi) has decided and I am obeying him,” he said, adding he intended to work as an MP for Kerala and neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, George Kurian’s inclusion in the council of ministers was kept a secret till a few hours before the swearing-in.

Currently the state general secretary of the BJP and a staunch loyalist of former Union minister V Muraleedharan, George had served as the vice chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities and also enjoys a rapport with the BJP central leadership.

George was handpicked as part of the party’s continued efforts to win the confidence of the Christian community, BJP sources said.

Relations between the community and the saffron party had soured against the backdrop of the Manipur violence. George is a known face of BJP in TV debates. The induction of George, who is seen as a bridge between the leaders of various church denominations and the BJP, could be seen in the context of the next assembly polls in Kerala, due in 2026.

BJP’s bid to woo Christian community

The BJP hopes to win a few seats with the support of the Christian community which constitutes just over 18% of the state’s population. Suresh’s win in Thrissur has also been attributed to the support extended by a large section of Christian voters. He defeated CPI leader V S Sunil Kumar by a margin of nearly 75,000 votes in a keenly watched triangular fight in which senior Congress leader K Muraleedharan finished third. Suresh garnered a total of 4.12 lakh votes, raising the BJP’s vote share in the constituency to 37% from the 28% he had polled in 2019.

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The New Indian Express