Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Sacred Heart Cathedral Church in New Delhi Sunday evening on the occasion of Easter.
During the half an hour that he spent there, the Prime Minister was seen greeting priests and the faithful, and joined them for prayers.
He later took to Twitter and posted photographs of his visit to the cathedral. “Today, on the very special occasion of Easter, I had the opportunity to visit the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Delhi. I also met spiritual leaders from the Christian community,” he said.
In the morning, he greeted the people: “Happy Easter! May this special occasion deepen the spirit of harmony in our society. May it inspire people to serve society and help empower the downtrodden. We remember the pious thoughts of Lord Christ on this day.”
The visit to the cathedral, Modi’s first in the country as Prime Minister, is being viewed as a major outreach to the Christian community by the ruling party. Lately, on multiple occasions, the Prime Minister has underscored his government’s commitment to ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ — development for all without any discrimination.
At the cathedral, he listened to hymns and planted a sapling in the front lawn, church office-bearers said, adding that the initiative for the visit was taken by the Prime Minister.
Before Modi arrived, Fr. Francis Swaminathan, Sacred Heart Cathedral Catholic Church, Delhi, said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming to our church today and we are excited about it. I think it’s for the first time that a Prime Minister is coming to a church.”Advertisement
Sources say that buoyed by the BJP’s performance in the recent Assembly polls in the Christian-dominated states of Nagaland and Meghalaya, the party has now set its sights on Kerala. Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, it is also projecting itself as a pan-India inclusive party.
With veteran Congress leader AK Antony’s son Anil Antony joining the party earlier this week, BJP sources said many people from the minority community will follow him in the days to come.
In Kerala, the BJP has launched a series of efforts to woo the Christian community, a minority but influential group, realising the need for an ally. The party, which is also in a fierce battle with the Congress in Karnataka where the Christian community and the church leadership are influential, believes Anil’s entry will blunt fears among the minority community and also attract more Christian youth to the BJP.Advertisement
Referring to Anil as a “faithful (of Christianity)” who holds “national interest above political interest”, Minister of State V Muraleedharan welcomed him into the party, saying it proves wrong the charge that the BJP does not welcome “non-Hindus”. “It is a befitting reply to those who spread it,” he said.
During the recent Parliament session, the head of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Baselios Marthoma Mathews III, met the Prime Minister, inviting him to visit their headquarters at Kottayam in Kerala.
“I met Prime Minister Modi as I was here for the Easter services in New Delhi at Hauz Khas church. He knows our church very well as our church is in Gujarat as well. He knows about the church’s institutions like education and charity that are run along with it across India,” he said, adding, “We are supporting the programmes the Government of India is doing for development.”
The Orthodox Church, with a following of around 2.5 million, is the second biggest Christian church in numbers in Kerala after the Roman Catholics.
In October 2021, the Prime Minister, during his visit to Italy and Vatican City, met Pope Francis, and invited him to visit India, to which the Pope said, “This is the greatest gift you have given me”Most Read 1 Gadar 2 box office collection day 4: Sunny Deol film records biggest Monday collections of all time, nets a total of Rs 173 cr 2 Bigg Boss OTT 2 Finale Live Updates: Elvish Yadav wins Salman Khan’s show, Abhishek Malhan shares message from hospital 3 Happy Independence Day 2023: Wishes Images, Whatsapp Messages, Status, Quotes, and Photos 4 OMG 2 box office collection day 4: Pankaj Tripathi-Akshay Kumar film delivers better Monday than opening Friday, earns Rs 55.1 cr 5 Jailer box office collection Day 5: Rajinikanth film set to cross Rs 350-crore mark worldwide on Independence Day Advertisement
After Modi’s meeting with the Pope, BJP chief J P Nadda had said, “India is a vibrant and inclusive democracy, where the Christian community has played a pivotal role in areas like politics, films, business and armed forces. Under Modi Ji’s leadership India is marching ahead on the path of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas’.”
The RSS had also endorsed the meet, with its general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale saying, “We welcome it because we believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family). We respect all religions.”Also ReadNarendra Modi Independence Day Speech Live Updates: India now identified ...Govt SOP for Judges: Do not name officials for court panelsShivaji statue vandalised in Goa, police initiate inquiry‘Will return to Red Fort next year’: In Independence Day speech, PM Modi ...Advertisement
The last papal visit to India was in 1999 when Pope John Paul II visited the country.© The Indian Express (P) Ltd