Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met the top priests of various churches in Kerala, giving a push to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s efforts to reach out to the influential minority community in the southern state ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, sources said.
It is learnt that Modi, who arrived in Kochi on a two-day Kerala visit, met eight top Church priests including Syro-Malabar Catholic Church head Cardinal George Alencherry, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church head Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, Syrian Orthodox Church head Baselios Marthoma Mathews III and Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Church Joseph Mor Gregorios.
The prime minister also met the senior priest of the Latin Catholic Church Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, Archbishop of Knanaya Church Mathew Moolakkatt, Archbishop of the Knanaya Jacobite Archdiocese Kuriakose Mar Severios, and Metropolitan of the Chaldean Syrian Church Mar Awgin Kuriakose, BJP sources said.
The meeting, a part of the BJP's outreach campaign 'Sneha Yatra', took place at Hotel Taj Malabar after the prime minister attended a massive road show and a youth conclave, Yuvam 2023, at the Sacred Hearts College ground in Kochi.
As part of the party's minority outreach, BJP leaders in Kerala had visited Christian and Muslim leaders and the homes of people belonging to these communities on the festive occasions of Easter and Eid, respectively.
Buoyed by the BJP's performance in polls in three north-eastern states including Christian-dominated Nagaland and Meghalaya last month, the prime minister had announced that the party-led alliance would form a government in Kerala too in the coming years.
"As gradually the lies of our rivals are exposed, the BJP will expand... I am sure in the coming years, as it has happened in Meghalaya and Nagaland and has been happening in Goa, the BJP's alliance will form government in Kerala too," he had said, blasting the Left and the Congress for their "politics of deceit" with their "friendship" in Tripura and rivalry in Kerala.
The CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front and Congress-led United Democratic Front are the two main political fronts in the southern state.