Kerala Catholic Bishop Council to hold talks with political groups ahead of poll

Kochi (Matters India): The Kerala Catholic Bishop Council (KCBC), the powerful body of the Catholic Church in the state, will hold a series of meetings with various stakeholders in the political and social life of Kerala in the next two weeks to decide its strategy ahead of the Assembly elections likely to be held in April.

The meetings are taking place in the background of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Sangh Parivar outfits making sustained overtures towards the Christian community in the state.

Fr. Jimmy Poochakkatt, spokesman of the Syro-Malabar Church, an important constituent of the KCBC, tried to downplay the political significance of these meetings by saying that they were part of the exercise to understand the perspectives of various sections of the society, reported Deccan Chronicle.

The series will begin on January 23 with a meeting of leaders involved in various mass movements, popularly known as Janakeeya Samarangal.

Advasi Gothra Mahasabha leaders C. K. Janu and Geethanandan are among those attending the meeting scheduled to be held at the Pastoral Orientation Centre (POC), along with leaders associated with the Penpillai Orumai of Munnar, fisher folks and representatives of people living in hilly tracts of the state.

“The meeting is not strictly political, but rather an exchange of ideas with the most marginalised sections of the society,” said Fr. Jimmy.

However, he said that the ‘Church is cautious and vigilant about’ the overtures made by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar towards the Christian community.

“The BJP’s change of attitude is a welcome step, but that does not mean that we are rushing towards any political alliance,” he added.

Meeting scheduled on January 30 will focus mainly on political situation in the country and the state, he said, and the attendees are being finalised.

“The failure of the political parties to live up to expectations of the people is the main reason for religious forces intervening in political affairs,” he pointed out.

The series will also involve a three-day study summit planned between February 5 and 7. It will be attended by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and several other leaders, Fr. Jimmy said.

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