Davanagere: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on the second day of his tour of the state ahead of Karnataka assembly elections, accused the Siddaramaiah government in the state of trying to divide Hindus and being the “most corrupt" in the country.
On a two-day visit to the poll-bound state, he said the move to accord religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Linagayats was an attempt to “divide" the Hindus. “Just ahead of the (assembly) elections in Karnataka, they have tried to divide Lingayats and Veerashaivas, also Lingayats and other communities, by announcing minority status for them," Shah told reporters in Devanagere.
Questioning the timing of the move, he asked the Siddaramaiah government, “What were you doing for five years?" In 2013, when your own (UPA) government was in power at the Centre, they had rejected it. Why was Siddaramaiah silent then? This is an attempt to divide the Hindus.." Shah said it was not a programme towards the welfare of the Veerashaiva and Lingayat community but a “conspiracy" to stop Yeddyurappa, considered a Lingayat strongman, from becoming the chief minister.
“Lingayat community understands it and I am sure the people of Karnataka will answer it through ballots," he said. The Karnataka cabinet had recently decided to recommend to the Centre over according religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, apparently to cut into the vote bank of the BJP, which significantly banks on their support. Alleging that Siddaramaiah even tried to bring ‘mutts’ and temples under the government control, the BJP chief said it was given up following opposition to the move.
“I have made five to six visits to Karnataka and after meeting people, I have been able to understand the feeling of Karnataka," said Shah. “The feeling of people of Karnataka is that he (Siddaramaiah) is not AHINDA leader, but an AHINDU (anti-Hindu) leader," he added.
AHINDA is a Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits. He said if the Congress did not stop Siddaramaiah, the party might have to face “harsh consequences" in elections. “On one hand, Congress president speaks about uniting Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, while on the other hand in Karnataka, its own chief minister is speaking about dividing Hindus. I have not seen such a sharp difference within a political party," he added.
Accusing the Islamic outfit, Popular Front of India (PFI) and its political wing SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) of being involved in killing Hindus and the BJP and the RSS activists, Shah alleged that the state government was playing “dirty vote bank politics" by withdrawing cases against them. “On one side, the Kerala government has recommended to ban PFI to the Union government, but Siddaramaiah finds nothing wrong with the PFI. This appeasement policy is the biggest threat to the security of Karnataka and India," he said.
Shah also said the people of Karnataka had understood that “this is the most corrupt government." “Recently a retired Supreme Court judge said if there was competition for corruption in the country, the Siddaramaiah government will get number one award," he said.
On the charge by Congress president Rahul Gandhi describing JD(S) as BJP’s ‘B team’ , Shah said there was no tacit understanding between the two parties. He said the BJP would contest all the 224 seats and form the government with clear majority without anybody’s support. To a question on certain Lingayat seers demanding BJP tickets to contest the poll, Shah said it would be premature to answer the query as tickets have not been finalised yet.
Asked about his meeting with Lingayat seers on Monday, Shah said there was no political motive behind it and it was done out of respect for them. To a question on absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, Shah said efforts were on to bring him back to India.
Earlier, Shah kickstarted the ‘mushti dhaanya abhiyaan’ (fistful foodgrain campaign) at Doddabati village near Devanagere where he collected food grains from farmers. The campaign is aimed at showing solidarity with the distressed farmers of Karnataka who have committed suicide.
Shah said, “We will cook and eat the foodgrains collected from you all. It courses through our veins in the form of blood. It will constantly remind us of our commitment to rid you of stress and work towards your benefit." He rued that in the last four-and-half years, 3,500 farmers have committed suicide in the state due to the “utter negligence" of the Siddaramaiah government.
He also promised setting up a state-of-the-art research and development centre at an investment of Rs500 crore in Karnataka to find out the medicinal values of coffee and arecanut besides finding solutions to the diseases of arecanut and coconut.