Thalassery: In an apparent open admission that the Church has no issue in supporting BJP if it supports rubber farmers, Thalassery Arch Bishop Mar Joseph Pamplany on Sunday said that if the Centre raises the price of rubber to Rs 300 per kg, the Church will help the BJP get an MP from Kerala.
He said this while addressing the Catholic Farmers Conference of the Thalassery Arch Diocese on Sunday.
Bishop Pamplany reminded the conference that any protest that does not turn into a vote in the election has no value in democracy.
"During the Corona crisis, the government announced a moratorium on bank loans. After this term ended, the bankers are raiding the farmer's houses and paddy fields to foreclose with interest and compound interest. Dear farmers, none of you should be afraid if such a foreclosure notice comes. We want to tell the government that not a single farmer among us is willing to sell a single cent of land or his land and fear anyone," he said.
"We are not speaking against any government... If the central government decided it can change the price of rubber to Rs 250. Any protest that does not turn into a vote is worthless in a democracy...You announce the price of rubber at Rs 300 and buy rubber from farmers at that price... We will vote for you...This migrant community can take away the worry that you don't have an MP from here," he told the attendees.
The Church has a major influence on farmers and most of the rubber plantations. Rubber is trading between Rs 131 and Rs 151 per kg between December 2022 and March 2023.
'BJP not untouchable'
With his speech becoming controversial, Bishop Pamplany explained that the Church would stand by those who help the rubber farmers.
"Is there a situation in which we cannot talk to the BJP? The Church or its leadership has no qualms about talking to a party that is ruling the country. I have talked to them about many things. Such discussions are ongoing in all sectors. There is no need to portray this as a position of the Catholic Church. What I expressed at that conference was the sentiments of the farmers from the high range. There is no need to misinterpret it as an alliance between the Church and the BJP," Mar Pamplany explained.
Kerala's Minister for Public Works and Tourism, Mohammed Riyas was cautious in his response to the question on the Bishop's statement. "I haven't seen the statement of the Bishop. I will comment only after having seen the statement and in what context he has said so if at all he has spoken like that."
However, the minister said that the RSS was aiming for a Hindu Rashtra as it was fast approaching its centenary year in 2025 and that the minorities of the country including Muslims and Christians are in fear. He said that the absolute majority of Narendra Modi in the past two elections has given the much-needed fillip for the RSS in this regard.
CPM State Secretary Govindan shot down the statement and said that no such social engineering will have any impact in Kerala. Without directly commenting on the statement of the Bishop, he said that whatever RSS and BJP try in Kerala, they won't be successful.
(With inputs from IANS)