THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Congress leaders K.V. Thomas and Oommen Chandy are wooing bishops in Kollam, Changanassery and Chengannur dioceses to support ahead of Chengannur byelections. However, BJP candidate P. S. Sreedharan Pillai is expecting votes of the Marthoma community due to his proximity to them. On Sunday, Mr Thomas called on Bishop Stanley Roman of Kollam Latin Catholic diocese while Mr Chandy held talks with various dioceses in Changanassery and Chengannur.
With Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop George Alencherry coming under a cloud over the alleged irregularities in land deals in the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, UDF’s stand is going to be crucial. A top Congress leader confirmed to DC that both leaders are trying to ensure their community votes for Congress candidate D. Vijayakumar. Ramesh Chennithala and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan have also met bishops. “Now Mr Thomas is leading the second round of talks,” he said. Recently, Mr Pillai’s 101st book, Dark Days of Democracy was received by Marthoma Delhi diocese Gregorios Mar Stephanos Episcopa from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
BJP leader Alphons Kannanthanam, also a Union minister, is known for his close ties with all denominations. His role as a former seminarian under late Bishop Abraham Alangi Mattathil of Kohima-Imphal diocese had prompted BJP to send him to Meghalaya in recent Assembly elections. Mr Kannanthanam was a student of philosophy at the Christ the King College in Shillong during the early 1970s. But Congress is not bothered. “Mr Chandy is very close to all of them, and so we are confident of getting their votes,” another Congress leader said. “Christians will vote for Mr Vijayakumar and not for the BJP.”