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’The Kerala Story’ vs Manipur documentary intensify battle for Kerala

Mangalore Today News Network

Thiruvanantapuram, April 10, 2024: The battle for Kerala looks to have become movie vs movie, and church vs church.

Just when the screening of the controversial 2023 film, ’The Kerala Story’ created a row in Kerala, the screening of another film from Manipur had seemingly turned it into ’a movie vs movie battle’.


The Kerala Story

The decision to screen a documentary film, ’Cry of the Oppressed’, portraying the year-long violence in the northeastern state, Manipur, comes as a reaction to the screening of The Kerala Story by some dioceses and a Christian youth organisation in Kerala, according to the Vypeen Sanjopuram Church of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese.

At the heart of the battle is the bid to attract voters from the Christian community, who form 18% of the state’s population. Kerala is the state with the highest number of Christians in India.

The community, which was seen voting for the Congress traditionally, is being wooed by the BJP.

What needs to be understood is that the Christians aren’t a homogenous block in Kerala.

The Catholic and Syrian Christians have shown recent inclinations towards the BJP, while the Protestants and the Latin Christians have even stayed away from the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

A few Christian communities, through the churches and priests, have helped the BJP make some inroads in a state which otherwise is dominated by the LDF and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

This is the reason behind the church vs church battle in Kerala.


The ’Cry of the Oppressed’ screening was attended by more than 100 Bible school students on Wednesday, according to a Kerala Kaumudi report.

The pitching of the Manipuri documentary ’Cry of the Oppressed’, against the screenings of ’The Kerala Story’, by respective churches seems to have divided the Christian community in the state.

The screening of ’The Kerala Story’ by some dioceses of the Syro Malabar Church was seen as an attempt to consolidate Christian votes in Kerala just before the state votes for the Lok Sabha polls on April 26.

"It is a documentary about the real issues that the people faced in Manipur. We should never forget what happened in Manipur. And we are trying to take this to the parishioners," Father James Panavelil of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese told The Times of India.

The vicar of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese also underlined the sudden need to highlight the crisis faced by the church in violence-stricken Manipur.

"The Kerala Story is a propaganda film and the Church should not be part of such a propaganda. We decided to screen the film as a counter statement against screening ’The Kerala Story’ to remind everyone of what happened in Manipur," added Father James Panavelil.

He also argued that even as ’The Kerala Story’ discusses ’love traps’, it appears to single out a specific religious community. He also highlighted that the numbers of Kerala women being converted to join the Islamic terror outfit was inflated.

"Though the Idukki diocese did it with the intention of making children aware of love traps, by doing it they are becoming part of that film’s propaganda," said Father James Panavelil.

The children should know about the Manipur riots, church vicar Nidhin Panavelil told Kerala Kamudi.


The Left Democratic Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front called the screenings "an agenda of the RSS".

The screening of ’The Kerala Story’ by Idukki Diocese church last week and plans to screen the film by the Kerala-based youth body, The Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM), under the Diocese of Thamarassery, came after the state boradcaster Doordarshan decided to air the film.

Kerala CM pinarayi Vijayan slammed Doordarshan for its decision and condemned the diocese screening ’The Kerala Story’. He alleged that the dioceses "aligned with the BJP and RSS agenda".

Although Kerala BJP chief K Surendran said that the people of Kerala "wholeheartedly welcomed the film", the saffron party refuted CM Vijayan’s claims.

"The BJP isn’t involved in the screening of the Kerala Story. The party has done nothing to polarise voters," a senior BJP leader from Kerala told IndiaToday.In, on condition of anonymity.

’The Kerala Story’ screenings in the state stirred a row as it was seen as an attempt to consolidate Christian votes.

The Christian community, which forms 18% of Kerala’s population and has the ability to swing several constituencies.

Of late, the BJP had been seen inching closer to the Christians in Kerala as the state has the highest population of Christians in India, which has traditionally been seen as a major voting block.

Courtesy: India Today