Kerala: Thrissur archdiocese slams BJP & actor Suresh Gopi, says ‘will not forget Manipur’

The Thrissur archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar church has hit out at BJP stating that it "will not forget Manipur" as the party plans to field actor-politician Suresh Gopi from Thrissur

Suresh Gopi had contested from Thrissur in 2019, but finished third behind the Congress and CPI (photo: @TheSureshGopi/ X)
Suresh Gopi had contested from Thrissur in 2019, but finished third behind the Congress and CPI (photo: @TheSureshGopi/ X)

Ashlin Mathew

The Thrissur archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala has hit out at the BJP, stating that it "will not forget Manipur" as the party has been planning to field its former MP, actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi, from the constituency for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

In a front-page article in the November edition of its mouthpiece Catholica Sabha, the archdiocese has harshly criticised the BJP and Gopi and questioned the silence of the party and the politician during the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur. An editorial in the same edition is titled 'What Manipur and Gaza Teach'. The Syro-Malabar church is an autonomous unit under the Catholic church.

“There was a person who wants to win Thrissur. He issued a 'cinematic' dialogue to the public that there are ‘men’ to look after the issues in Manipur and UP. People are asking whether these so-called ‘men’ (referring to Gopi) had the courage to question the prime minister and BJP leadership when Manipur was burning. Or are they aiming to repeat Manipur? Are they hoping that the public will vote for them and are they hoping to turn Kerala to Manipur once they win?” asked the front-page article.

The article also termed Gopi’s statement as immature, while questioning why BJP was fielding Gopi from Thrissur and if they couldn’t find a local resident. Gopi is a resident of Kollam district, but his family lives in state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

The BJP has been hoping to put up a strong fight for the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat. Both the party's state leadership and Gopi had indicated that he would contest from Thrissur. In 2019, Gopi had contested from the same seat but finished third as Congress leader TN Prathapan won the seat by a margin of 93,633 votes, defeating Rajaji Mathew Thomas of CPI.

The article has underscored that the people of Kerala were observant and prudent enough to understand the situation in Manipur, where peace still hasn’t been restored. "No thinking person in a democracy can forget Manipur. People are alert about the bid to garner votes, while hiding the Manipur violence. Voters in Kerala recognise religious extremism and they understand supporting religious extremism will only lead to disaster," stated the article.

In the editorial on both Manipur and Gaza, the archdiocese has condemned the "witch hunting" of Christians in Manipur under what the church believes is the guise of a clash between two ethnic groups, the Meitei and Kuki-Zo. A majority of the Kuki-Zo community are Christians.

The editorial highlighted that the Manipur government took sides until it resulted in riots and now, several children have lost their lives in the violence. “When a Hindu temple was attacked in Australia, when there was an attack in Israel, and in the Russia-Ukraine war, we saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi issuing a statement immediately.

"However, the prime minister did not utter a single word to control the riots in his own country for months, and that is a devastating blow to secularism. If anyone tries to divide and rule the people by harbouring caste, communal and political extremism, then nothing but disaster and tragedy awaits our country," read the editorial.

The editorial also emphasised that if citizens do not vote for a political leadership that recognises democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Constitution, the future of the country was bleak.

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