George Kurian: A Christian Face in Modi Ministry

Featured & Cover George Kurian A Christian Face in Modi Ministry

George Kurian, a seasoned politician, a lawyer by profession, and the BJP state general secretary in Kerala, has made history by becoming a Minister from the southern Indian state, Kerala in the newly formed Narendra Modi-led NDA government. George Kurien joined the cine actor turned politician, Suresh Gopi, who gave the saffron party a resounding win in the recently held Lok Sabha elections, by representing Kerala and the minority Christian community in a Hindu dominated Modi-led government that assumed charge of the largest democracy, India on June 9th, 2024.

Per reports, Kurien had reached Delhi on the day of the swearing-in ceremony to be part of the audience to watch and be part of the historic moment. After arrival in India’s capital city, Kurien, to his surprise, was informed that he was chosen to be on the podium with the ministerial designates. As a minister of state, Kurien is given the charge of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, in addition to the Ministry of Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

“I treat this as a recognition for a BJP worker and also as a new responsibility,” Kurien (63), told the media when asked about his entry into the ministry. The ministerial decoration of Kurian, who belongs to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, is also being seen in the backdrop of the BJP’s publicly demonstrated outreach to woo the Christian community in Kerala.

Kurian’s appointment to the Modi-led cabinet is seen as part of the BJP’s strategy to strengthen its foothold in Kerala by reaching out to the Christian community.

Asked about it, Kurien said: “The oath I took as minister has clearly stated that I shall discharge my responsibilities impartially with all. I, therefore, will work for the good of all sections of society, including the Christian community”.

Kurien is a devout Church-going Christian who is also totally committed to his political faith and work, starting his student politics during the Janata Party phase with closer affiliation with the Jan Sangh (previous avatar of BJP).

Kurien is known as a dyed-in-the-wool BJP man, unwaveringly sticking to his party and its ideology since his student days, at a time when most of his fellow Christians in Kerala had been indifferent to the saffron party. His journey in politics began in 1980 when, as a young man of 19, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindutva organization.

“I started with the Vidyarthi Parishad and then with Yuva Morcha (where he became a national officer-bearer) before starting to work with the BJP,” he said, recollecting his political journey.

Kurian’s decision to join the BJP, despite being a Christian, was met with criticism from various quarters, including his conservative Christian family circles. However, Kurian remained steadfast in his political choices, overcoming numerous challenges. Over the years, he has held various significant positions within the BJP, including membership in the national executive committee, serving as the national vice-president of BJP’s Yuvamorcha, and being the vice-chairman of the National Commission for Minorities.

During his tenure at the National Commission for Minorities, Kurian shared the concerns of the Christian community in Kerala on the “love jihad’’ controversy. When BJP veteran O Rajagopal was a union minister with the Vajpayee government from 1999 to 2004, Kurian served as his officer on special duty.

 He never had a stint with the RSS but has many friends among the RSS activists. A soft-spoken politician-lawyer, currently a general secretary of the BJP Kerala Party and its regular spokesman in Malayalee TV news debates, Kurien has also in between fought some tough elections for his party and lost, including once against Congress stalwart Oommen Chandy from the latter’s Puthuppally fortress. But the leadership’s eye for him and his work was also evident when he was made vice-chairman of the National Commission for Minorities by the previous Modi government.

Kurian has been an organization man within the Kerala BJP for the past four decades after he entered politics through the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). Despite being in a tough political climate in a state where the BJP has not had much success electorally, Kurian stayed with the party and worked overtime to increase its outreach to the minorities, especially the Christian community to which he belongs.

Kurian has served in the past as the national vice-chairman of the National Commission for Minorities and the officer on special duty (OSD) to O Rajagopal, the veteran BJP leader, during his term as Union minister in the AB Vajpayee government.

Kurian’s induction into the Union council is seen as the BJP’s acknowledgement of the Christian support to the party in the just-concluded elections, especially in Thrissur where the party won. It will also be seen as the party’s further outreach to the community in shoring up support ahead of the Assembly elections in the state in 2026.

This is not the first time the BJP has attempted to gain support from Christian voters in the state. In the first Modi government, Alphonse Kannanthanam was appointed as a minister, but it did not yield electoral benefits in Kerala in the 2019 elections.

Senior BJP leader P K Krishnadas told the media that Kurian’s induction into the Council of Ministers was a major recognition for the state. “We have now two ministers from Kerala. It shows that Narendra Modi has given due consideration for the state,” he said.

After assuming charge as a Minister, George Kurian  was welcomed by Secretary Srinivas Katikithala and other senior officials of the ministry. Addressing the media on the occasion Mr. Kurian expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister for giving the opportunity and said that he would work towards improving the socio- economic conditions of minority communities of the country.

 Kurian’s inclusion in the Modi cabinet is expected to further boost the BJP’s efforts to make inroads into Kerala’s Christian community. Kurian’s journey from a young Christian youth to a cabinet minister in the NDA government is a testament to his dedication and perseverance. He has overcome numerous challenges and criticisms to reach his current position. Per political pundits, he is seen as a strong and articulate representative of the community, and his appointment is likely to resonate well with Christian voters in the state.

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