Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a master orator, recently used a Biblical reference to attack the Pinarayi Vijayan government in poll-bound Kerala, where Christian votes will be a major deciding factor. Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have an unqualified and clearly stated commitment to Hindutva.
“Judas betrayed Lord Christ for a few pieces of silver. LDF [Left Democratic Front] has betrayed Kerala for a few pieces of gold,” Modi said on 30 March in Palakkad while addressing a rally.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has often raked up the spectre of ‘love jihad’ in Kerala to scare both Hindus and Christians. Now, Prime Minister Modi has used the Judas metaphor in a bid to send a message to the state’s Christians, who make up 17 per cent of its population.
Wonder what religious reference the PM will use next. The Battle of Karbala? The 7th Century battle is often cited as the moment when Shia and Sunni Muslims split. The battle also signifies the supreme sacrifice of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, who was killed by the forces of the tyrant ruler Yazid.
Not to mention that Modi’s Judas metaphor came on a holy week ahead of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. His remarks, however, were more political than religious as he attacked the Kerala chief minister who is embroiled in the murky gold smuggling case, which has rocked the state ahead of the polls.
Also read: How Left in Kerala is invoking both Marx and market to keep power in this election
Not the first time
This isn’t, however, the first time that Modi, a devout Hindu, has used Biblical references or remembered Christ.
Earlier in his monthly Mann Ki Baat radio address, Modi had said “the son of man has come, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life, as a blessing to all humankind.”
On Good Friday last year, Modi remembered Jesus Christ and how he devoted his life to serve people. Earlier this year, Modi also met Kerala’s church leaders to discuss a range of issues.
Modi’s outreach to the Christian community, however, falls flat in the face of increasing crime against Christians, which has seen a steep rise of 60 per cent between 2016 and 2019.
In 2019, there were 527 recorded incidents of hate crimes against Christians of which 109 were in Uttar Pradesh, followed by 75 in Tamil Nadu, 32 in Karnataka, 31 in Maharashtra, and 30 in Bihar.
Under the Modi government, which has taken a harsh stand on religious conversion, there have been reports of attacks on priests over unfounded fears of conversion. The latest example being the incident in which four nuns were allegedly harassed on a train in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh.
Also read: Attack on Kerala nuns in Jhansi ‘reeks of politics’, says minorities commission member
Jesus in South, Ram in North
Religious metaphors and references play a central role in India’s political discourse. Political leaders have time and again invoked religious symbols, figures, and references to further their agenda. India’s religious diversity also offers political parties the liberty to use, or rather misuse, religious figures to their convenience to woo different communities.
So, while Modi and BJP leaders invoke Lord Ram and Krishna to appeal to North India’s Hindu hardline sensibilities (we know how Jai Shree Ram became a war cry in the North), he uses Jesus analogy in the South, which accounts for over 20 per cent of India’s total Christians. In the East, Goddess Durga, Saraswati and Kali take precedence.
The Quran, Bhagavad Gita, and Bible have all found mention in speeches by Modi and many other political leaders. Even the 2019 Economic Survey had invoked all the three religious scriptures to urge people to repay their loans.
In India, religion and politics are inseparable — here, even political leaders are sometimes deified and equated with divinity. Probably, this is why religious figures become the rallying force in the country’s politics.
Views are personal.
Jesus, Ram, Krishna , the entire pantheon can be invoked, but PM is now up against the superior intellect of the Southern people . They won’t get taken in by religious examples and in Kerala he is up against the good governance record of Vijayan in almost all sectors.
Do the seculars have a monopoly to speak about other religions? Why do you put anyone in a straitjacket? Betrayal by LDF is true. Only the CM is awaiting summons from Customs and ED. Everyone else in the State Government seems involved in gold smuggling scam.
What phrase will he use next?
Wait and see.
It will be a shocker for Modi haters and suedo-seclars.
Like all ‘scams” this is exaggerated by dragging everyone in. Voters are more likely to remember the improved hospitals, schools, gas pipeline project, handling of the flood emergencies , the free household kits given during the floods and Vizhinjom Harbour. Mr Modi has nothing unique to offer by way of development , except some Central schemes.
Elementary Ms DD,
Ātman (Atma, आत्मा, आत्मन्) is a Sanskrit word which means “essence, breath, soul.”
Atmanirbhar Bharat : self reliant India: here dependence is predominant
Atma Nirbhar : Dependent on the soul: here soul is predominant
In both cases it is desired that India should progress.
Nothing but raving and ranting by the author….looks like she was earlier a CONgress spokeswoman.
Modiji has always quoted examples from history of different religions which are still relevant today. But so called LIBERAL SECULARS like this author are unable to come to terms with Modiji’s ability to connect with people, whether in North or in South of India.
When Modhi/BJP/Hindus says something it becomes big news for every one. Let the Majority Hindus of India also live with peace in their birth land. Exploitation of our Constitution is becoming too much.
Jesus in South, Ram in North. Will Modi invoke Karbala sacrifice next?
Is it anything wrong in invoking figures from other faith in a secular country? Followers of any faith can understand better from figures in their own faith rather than alien faith.
Then why is he not allowing people in Bengal to chant Ma Durga and insists on shouting Jai Sei Ram?
He has visited many Durga mandirs too. Mamata is ghastly woman. She seem to be from RAKSHASHA descendent of Shandilya family, therefore then name of SHRI RAM IS ANATHEMA TO HER..
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