Controversy Erupts as Thrissur Diocese Challenges Suresh Gopi and BJP Over Manipur Silence

Tensions Rise in Kerala BJP Amid Accusations of Neglecting Minority Rights During Manipur Riots

The Thrissur archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Church, one of the most influential religious groups in Kerala, has strongly criticized the BJP and its leader, Suresh Gopi, for their silence and indifference during the Manipur riots. The diocese expressed its views in the November edition of its mouthpiece ‘Catholicasabha’, which featured an editorial and a front-page article.

What happened in Manipur?

In August 2023, Manipur witnessed violent clashes between two ethnic groups: the Meiteis, who are predominantly Hindu, and the Kukis, who are mostly Christian. The conflict erupted over land disputes and political representation and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people, mostly Kukis. Many Kukis were also displaced from their homes and villages and sought refuge in neighbouring states.

The Manipur and Central governments, both led by the BJP, were accused of doing little to stop the bloodshed and protect the victims. Many critics alleged that the BJP was biased towards the Meiteis, who are its leading vote bank in the state and ignored the plight of the Kukis, who are a minority.

What did Suresh Gopi say?

Suresh Gopi, a former Rajya Sabha MP and a famous actor is one of the BJP’s star campaigners in Kerala. He is expected to contest the upcoming assembly elections from Thrissur, a district with a large Christian population.

In October 2023, Suresh Gopi participated in a padayatra (march) organized by the BJP in Karuvannur, a village in Thrissur. During his speech, he made a controversial remark that angered many people, especially Christians. He said, “Don’t look to Manipur and Uttar Pradesh; there are men in those states to look after matters…”

How did the Thrissur diocese react?

The Thrissur diocese, which has a strong presence and influence in the district, did not take Suresh Gopi’s statement lightly. It questioned his credibility and sincerity as a leader and a representative of the people. It also challenged his loyalty and courage as a member of the BJP.

In the editorial titled “What Manipur and Gaza Teach Us”, the diocese condemned the atrocities committed against the Christians in Manipur and compared them to the genocide of the Jews in Gaza. It said that the BJP governments, both at the Centre and the state, were responsible for the carnage and accused them of supporting the Meitei Hindu extremists. It also criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his silence and inaction on the issue and contrasted it with his prompt interventions in other international conflicts.

In the front-page article “Will Not Forget Manipur”, the diocese slammed Suresh Gopi for his insensitive and irresponsible remark. It asked him where he and his party were when Manipur burned and why they did not raise their voice against injustice and violence. It also warned the people of Thrissur not to fall for his “cinematic” statements and to be vigilant against the BJP’s agenda of dividing and ruling the people based on religion and caste.

What is the significance of this controversy?

The controversy between the Thrissur diocese and Suresh Gopi reflects the deep-rooted tensions and conflicts between the BJP and the Christian community in Kerala. The BJP, which has been trying to expand its base and influence in the state, has faced strong resistance and opposition from the Christians, who constitute about 18% of the population. The Christians, who have traditionally supported the Congress and the Left parties, have accused the BJP of being anti-minority and anti-secular and of trying to impose its Hindutva ideology on the state.

The controversy also highlights the impact of the Manipur riots on Kerala politics and the role of the media and civil society in raising awareness and solidarity among the people. The Manipur riots, which were largely ignored and underreported by the national media, have received comprehensive coverage and attention in the Kerala media, especially the Christian publications. The Kerala civil society, including the Church, the NGOs, and the cultural activists, have also organized protests and relief campaigns for the Manipur victims and demanded justice and accountability from the governments.

The controversy, therefore, is not just about a statement made by a politician but about a more significant issue of human rights, democracy, and secularism that affects the people of both Manipur and Kerala. It is also about the responsibility and the role of the leaders, the media, and the public in addressing and resolving such issues.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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