Christian leaders split between BJP and separate party in Kerala: Saffron party's dual strategy

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Kollam: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala is implementing a dual strategy to bring together Christian leaders ahead of parliamentary elections. The party will directly include a group of Christian leaders into the party by providing membership. A new party, likely to be named the Nationalist Progressive Party (NPP) (not to be confused with Meghalaya’s National People’s Party, another BJP ally), will be formed to accommodate other leaders. This party will be involved in the NDA.

Former Pathanamthitta UDF district chairman and Kerala Congress (Joseph) leader Victor T Thomas will join BJP. The final decision rests with the BJP's national leadership.

There are indications that the BJP has also held discussions with former DCC president who recently resigned. As the prime minister's visit to Kerala nears, leaders including Johnny Nellore, are expected to expedite the formation of the NPP, and an announcement is likely on Saturday.

To garner support from Christian church leaders, BJP national leaders are involved. Union Minority Affairs Minister John Barla has already met several Christian church leaders in recent days. A senior leader from Ernakulam who joined the BJP when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister and later left the party is leading the talks. A section of the Catholic Congress and some religious leaders are also involved.

The party aims to expand its minority base by adding Christian workers at the grassroot level. The aim is to add at least 5,000 people in each district from Thrissur to the south who are closely related to Christian churches and active in parish committees. They target disgruntled workers and leaders of the Congress, Kerala Congress’ Mani and Joseph factions.

The BJP believes that its inability to maintain close contact with the common people of the minority community has hindered its ability to convert leaders' arrivals into votes. The new party will also include some recently formed Christian organisations, as well as people working with organisations like CASA.

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