Politicians throng bishops’ houses in poll-bound Kerala

The general election for the fourteenth legislative assembly will be held on May 16.

Thiruvananthapuram (UCAN): With May 16 drawing near, candidates and party honchos of all hues and shades are making the proverbial beeline to call on the church leaders in Kerala.
Outwardly, the Churches remain nonchalant, stating that they themselves have little political ambition and the faithful should go by their conscience in casting their votes.
Almost all the top leaders and candidates have visited Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, Archbishop M Soosa Pakiam and Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam, the heads of three big Christian denominations which have their HQ in Thiruvananthapuram. The perception of their clout is such that some candidates have already made the ‘pilgrimage’ multiple times.
Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, head of the Catholic Bishops Council of India and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, has been busy receiving politicians this summer at the Archbishop’s House at Pattom. “The Church has no stand other than that everyone should vote,” said Fr Bovas Melootu, spokesperson of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
Over the past few weeks, almost all the top leaders of UDF, LDF and BJP have called on Latin Archbishop of Thiruvananthapuram M SoosaPakiam at his Vellayambalam residence.
Even bar owner Biju Ramesh, the AIADMK candidate in Thiruvananthapuram Central, had called on the 70-year-old Church veteran, a long-time advocate of prohibition and abstention, seeking his “blessings”, a Church spokesperson said.
The Kerala Region Latin Catholic Council, the Latin Church’s political arm, has advocated an equidistance policy for the elections, with the tacit rider that candidates from the community would get a helping hand.
“We have urged all parishioners to cast their vote. No party is ‘untouchable’ to us,” said Rev Paulson, secretary to Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam of the South Kerala Diocese, Church of South India (CSI). Almost all the candidates – belonging to all three major fronts – have already made the ‘courtesy call’ to Bishop Rasalam at his official residence. With parishes spread across Thiruvananthapuram and parts of Kollam, the CSI South Kerala Diocese, holds sway over a sizeable vote bank in southern Kerala constituencies.
According to the spokesperson of Thrissur Archdiocese, top leaders of the three fronts in Kerala, including CM, Home Minister, CPM state secretary, and BJP state president, and almost all candidates from central Kerala have already visited Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Thrissur.
A number of candidates in constituencies which fall under jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly have visited the Cardinal George Alencherryat the Bishop’s House.
The Cardinal had the largest number of visitors on April 23, the day of feast of St George.The candidates in Kottayam district have visited Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, head of the Malankara Orthodox Church, at Devalokam Aramana in Kottayam on different days.

Source: New Indian Express

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