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regular-article-logo Monday, 04 March 2024

Embrace Manipur victims as you do US President Joe Biden, Kerala archbishop urges Narendra Modi

Mar Joseph Pamplany lauds Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi for visiting the state, which has been wracked by violence between the mostly Hindu Meiteis and predominantly Christian Kukis since May 3

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 11.09.23, 05:48 AM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden. File photo

A controversial Kerala archbishop who had offered a Lok Sabha seat to the BJP from the state in exchange for higher rubber prices has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to embrace the people of Manipur the way he hugs world leaders like US President Joe Biden.

Archbishop Mar Joseph Pamplany of the Archdiocese of Thalassery, till recently seen as a friend of the BJP, added that Modi “need(ed) to prove that you are the Prime Minister of every Indian” and not of “one section of people”.

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“It is an honour for the country when our Prime Minister hugs Joe Biden, (French President) Emmanuel Macron, (British Prime Minister) Rishi Sunak. Every Indian citizen is proud when our leader stands beside world leaders,” Pamplany said in Kasaragod on Sunday.

“But I have something to tell our honourable Prime Minister. Modiji, what we would value more than you embracing Joe Biden is your keeping the Manipuri women who were stripped naked closer to you and assuring them that you are there to protect them.”

He added: “This country is yearning for that sight when you tell this (that you will protect them) to them. And like every Indian, I too am yearning to see that. You are not the Prime Minister of one section of people. You must realise that you need to prove that you are the Prime Minister of every Indian.”

Pamplany was addressing a gathering at the conclusion of a 24-hour sit-in that Congress Lok Sabha member Rajmohan Unnithan had held seeking protection for India’s diversity.

The archbishop lauded Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi for visiting Manipur, which has been wracked by violence between the mostly Hindu Meiteis and predominantly Christian Kukis since May 3, with over 170 people killed, thousands left homeless and women paraded naked.

“Rahul Gandhi is the biggest leader to visit Manipur after the violence started. His visit is a great assurance to the minority communities, since it means he is there to protect the constitutional values,” Pamplany said.

Until the Manipur violence broke out, the archbishop was widely seen as the BJP’s mascot in the Christian community – one that the party had been seeking desperately with the objective of gaining a toehold in Kerala.

Pamplany had in March angered the majority among the Christian clergy andlaity by offering a Lok Sabha seat to the BJP in exchangefor a minimum supportprice of Rs 300 for rubber.Like Pamplany, a sizeable number of rubber cultivators belong to the Syro-Malabar Church.

The BJP had followed up on the archbishop’s offer by holding meetings with him and promising a higher price for rubber which, however, did not materialise.

On Sunday, the archbishop aimed a jibe at the NDA government’s increasing use of “Bharat” in place of “India” in official matters.

“You need to understand the meaning of ‘Bharatam’ (the Malayalam equivalent of ‘Bharat’). ‘Bha’ means light in Sanskrit. So the word refers to those who find happiness in light,” he said.

“We need to understand that until and unless one lives by the meaning of this word, there is no point in changing a name.”

Pamplany urged the minority communities to appreciate the large-heartedness of most Hindus.

“Every Christian and Muslim must understand that it is the large-heartedness of the majority of our Hindus that is their safety and protection. But it is that goodness that some divisive forces are trying to burn,” he said.

“But I am sure that the crores of Hindus in the country are not ignorant enough to support such divisive forces, and that they are capable of understanding the truth. The majority among the Hindu community are the best guarantee for our safety.”

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