Congress' Kerala unit issues apology after meme on Modi-Pope meet faces backlash

Photo: A screenshot of the meme posted by Congress' Kerala Unit. Photo: X/INCKerala

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala unit of the Indian National Congress has issued an apology after its social media post mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Pope Francis at the G7 Summit sparked widespread criticism.

The controversy began when the Congress' Kerala unit posted a meme on its social media handle depicting the Modi-Pope meeting with the caption, "Finally, the Pope got a chance to meet God!". When the post quickly garnered negative reactions across social media platforms from the BJP and others, the Kerala unit withdrew the post and issued a statement. While apologising to the Christian community, the Congress clarified that the post was not meant to insult the Pope but was mere criticism of Narendra Modi who claimed to be 'divine.'

A rough translation of the Congress post is as follows:
“It is widely known among the people of this country that the Indian National Congress does not disrespect or insult any religion, religious leaders, or idols. Congress is an organisation that guides the people forward in an atmosphere of harmony, uniting all religions and beliefs. They do not engage in actions that would insult the Pope, who is regarded as divine by Christian believers worldwide. However, Congress does not shy away from criticising Narendra Modi, who claims to be divine, an assertion that deeply offends believers in this country. Narendra Modi's political circle and his supporters might find it convenient to depict his shameless political battles as mocking the Pope. They are currently attempting to diminish the morale of Christian believers by targeting their places of worship in Manipur. If this post has offended the sentiments of any Christians, we apologise to them unconditionally.”

The post also quoted the Pope from June 14, "When you manage to make intelligent smiles gush from the lips of even one spectator, you make even God smile."

The BJP in Kerala had hit out at the Congress party and alleged that it's X handle was seemingly run by "radical Islamists or Urban Naxals". BJP state chief K Surendran accused the grand old party's state unit of posting derogatory and humiliating content against nationalistic leaders on its social media handle. He alleged that AICC general secretary K C Venugopal was certainly aware of the posts and sought to know whether party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and senior leader Rahul Gandhi endorsed it.

"The @INCIndia Kerala "X" handle, seemingly run by radical Islamists or Urban Naxals, continues to post derogatory and humiliating content against nationalistic leaders. Now, it has even stooped to mocking the respected Pope and the Christian community. It's certain that the AICC General Secretary from Kerala, @kcvenugopalmp, is aware of this. The question is, what are @RahulGandhi and @kharge's interests in supporting this?" Surendran said in his X handle.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday invited Pope Francis to visit India and said he admired the pontiff's commitment to serving the people. They met with a warm embrace at the Outreach session of the G7 Summit in Italy where they joined other world leaders to deliberate on the topic of Artificial Intelligence, Energy, Africa and the Mediterranean.

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