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Malankara Orthodox Church backs BJP leader for saving historical shrine in Kerala from demolition

ANI | Updated: Mar 05, 2021 18:50 IST

Alappuzha (Kerala) [India], March 5 (ANI): After interventions were made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to save a 1000-year-old Christian church in Kerala's Alappuzha district from demolition, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) has decided to support the BJP leader who took the initiative to protect it.
St George Orthodox Church Cheppad faced the demolition threat due to a proposed widening of a national highway. Fr KM Varghese Kaleekkal the former vicar of that church said that it was BJP leader Dr R Balashankar who helped the church during the crisis.
"When we were protesting to save the church from demolition as part of the national highway widening many leaders from Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M), Congress and others visited us. But none of them took the initiative to save the church from getting demolished. It was BJP leader Balashankar who spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari," Fr. Varghese told ANI.
"Due to their intervention, the alignment of the highway's widening was changed after Archeological Survey of India (ASI) issued orders to make Church a protected monument," he added.
Fr. Varghese also an MOSC management committee member said, "We will surely cast our vote to those who protected our home."

"The church even does not have to officially announce to vote for BJP. All people here know it was Prime Minister who intervened after Balashankar took the initiative. So we will be supporting him," he added.
When asked if the Church will make an official announcement he said, "Now it's too early to comment as even the candidates have not been decided. If any official announcement should be made, we will make it at the appropriate time. But surely we will support those who supported us at the time of crisis."
BJP is likely to field Balashankar from the Chengannur assembly where Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church has great influence.
The St George Orthodox Church, Cheppad, is believed to be built in AD 1050. The church has many rare mural paintings that date back to the 13th-century.
"Also the tomb of Malankara Metropolitan Philipose Mar Dionysius from 1855 is housed in the church," said Fr. Varghese. (ANI)