Amit Shah meets Christian bishops in Kerala
Kochi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah, who arrived here on June 2 on a three-day visit to Kerala, held a meeting with senior bishops from various sections of the Christian churches.
The bishops, whom Shah met at the local Revival Centre, were from the Catholics, Latin, Mar Thoma and the Orthodox churches.
After the meeting, spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church A.P. Jimmy said there was nothing political in the meeting.
“This was a casual visit, and him being the chief of the party that rules the country, he was briefed about the various issues that Kerala faces in respect of agriculture and other related areas,” Jimmy told the media, Business Standard reported.
Church leaders described the closed-door meeting as ‘cordial, informal and apolitical’ that was convened at the request of the BJP central leadership. Shah told the leaders that the minorities would not face any differential treatment from the coalition.
The meeting which lasted for an hour saw Church leaders raise various issues with Shah, ranging from the release of Fr. Tom Uzhunnal, abducted by IS terrorists and detained in strife-torn Yemen, to the plight of fishermen in the wake of the latest national policy on marine fisheries, which fishers’ bodies in Kerala have decried as making way for foreign vessels to fish in India’s exclusive economic zone.
The church leaders present were Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil of Verapoly, Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, head of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church; Thomas Mar Athanasius, senior Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church’s Chenganur dioceses; and Cyril Baselious of the Independent Syrian Church.
Sources said that Shah would also meet Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, head of the Syro-Malankara Church and Archbishop Maria Soosa Pakiam of the Latin archdiocese of Trivandrum, on June 3.
This apart, head of each church denomination is expected to hold individual meetings with Shah in Delhi in the days to come. The meetings are coordinated by Sabu Varghese, former president of State BJP’s Minority Morcha.
Earlier in the day, Shah was given a rousing welcome by BJP workers.
Chairing a meeting of the core committee of Kerala unit of the party, Shah asked them to ensure more representation in the assembly and also to open the party’s account in the Lok Sabha polls.
At present, the BJP has just one legislator in the 140-member Kerala Assembly.
Shah is scheduled to lay the foundation stone for a 100-million-rupee party headquarters building in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram on June 3.
He will also meet a select list of invitees drawn from various sections of the society besides party workers and other party functionaries.