Modi's X'mas lunch: Saji Cherian slams Christian priests for silence on Manipur, KCBC lashes back

Saji Cherian, KCBC spokesperson Father Jacob Palackapilly. Photo: Manorama News

Alappuzha: The Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) has slammed the State's Cultural Affairs Minister Saji Cherian for criticising Christian priests for their alleged silence on the issue of Manipur violence during the Christmas programme organised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his official residence in New Delhi.

"The Minister should at least consider the sanctity of the position he holds while spewing out such remarks. Saji Cherian and KT Jaleel are using the same dictionary given to them during party classes," KCBC spokesperson Father Jacob Palackapilly said.

Responding to Cheriyan's criticism that priests did not discuss the Manipur violence issue with Modi during the Christmas programme, the KCBC spokesperson said that it is not the role of political parties to dictate the political stance of Christians. He questioned the ministers' motive behind linking the Christian community's participation in the Prime Minister's event to a specific political affiliation.

Palackappilly clarified that the Christmas programme was a reception organised by the Prime Minister to discuss the services provided by Christians in the country. He urged against adopting a negative stance on the matter and highlighted the participation of Christian priests including Bishops' as part of their commitment to the nation.

Saji Cherian's remark was that some bishops were thrilled when the BJP invited them for a feast and they forgot the Manipur issue when they ate grape juice and cake. Saji Cherian said that the bishops who went to the banquet did not talk about Manipur and it was not an issue for them. While inaugurating the CPM local committee office in Alappuzha Punnapra North, the minister made a strong criticism.

Speaking after inaugurating a local committee office of his party CPI(M) in this coastal district, Cherian mocked certain bishops who attended the Prime Minister's programme, saying they got "goosebumps" when BJP leaders invited them. He alleged that they forgot the issue of Manipur violence targeting their own community members when they were served with cakes and grape wine.

"Did they urge the Indian Prime Minister to intervene in the matter?" the CPI(M) leader questioned. Stating that Christian community members were butchered in Manipur, Cherian also criticised certain Christian priests for still joining the BJP in Kerala. His remarks came a day after a priest and around 50 Christian families joined the BJP in Pathanamthitta district. Neither the BJP nor the bishops have reacted to Cherian's allegations.

During an interaction with the members of the Christian community at his residence on Christmas, Modi had heaped praise on the minority community for its role in the freedom movement and in various fields like healthcare and education, and said the country proudly acknowledges its contribution. Modi had said the values of compassion, inclusivity and justice for all propagated by Jesus Christ also served as a "guiding light" in his government's development journey.

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