Bengaluru: Former Karnataka chief minister H.D.Kumaraswamy on Friday tore into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for harassing Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar and implying that the Centre was selectively targeting the Vokkaliga community.
Kumaraswamy met Shivakumar’s mother at the latter's home in Kanakapura on Friday.
“Already, our [Vokkaliga] community’s leader S.M. Krishna’s son-in-law (V.G.Siddhartha) had written a letter about the harassment being meted out to him. I am not here to politicise on the basis of caste, we respect everybody," Kumaraswamy said.
Though Shivakumar has been arrested over money laundering charges, the Congress has tried to term it as political vendetta by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah-led National Democractic Alliance (NDA) government in the Centre to deflect attention away from bigger problems like slowdown in economy and job losses across sectors.
Kumaraswamy and his father H.D.Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) is considered a Vokkaliga backed party that enjoys the support of the community, found in large numbers in southern Karnataka. Kumaraswamy has been trying to get back the support of the community that had drifted towards the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP has been trying to crack the dominance of the Congress and JD(S) in south Karnataka or the Vokkaliga belt but has largely been unsuccessful. But the alliance between the traditional rivals had pushed both Congress and JD(S) workers towards the BJP as the cadre refused to accept the state level alliance from the beginning.
Kumaraswamy also said that if he had decided to take any action against then opposition leader Yediyurappa (now chief minister) for attempting to poach JD(S)-Congress legislators, it would have been viewed as targeting of the Veerashaiva community.
Though Veerashaiva is considered a sub-sect of Lingayats, the terms are interchangeably used in many parts of Karnataka.
Though the Congress-JD(S) coalition collapsed under the weight of its own differences, Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda have come out in more support of Shivakumar than members of Congress.
Shivakumar had set aside personal differences with Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda to save the coalition government, which allegedly irked Siddaramaiah who was trying to settle scores with the first family of the JD(S).
“He is a Congress leader from our community, and he was arrested because they feared that he was growing in stature," H.D.Revanna, senior JD(S) leader said on Friday at a private event.
Shivakumar is a prominent leader of the community and has had to fight members of his own party, especially Siddaramaiah, against sidelining Vokkaligas in the run up to the 2018 assembly elections in Karnataka.
Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda had managed to channel the anger of the Vokkaliga community against Siddaramaiah who was seen to sideline the two dominant communities (the other is Lingayats) to favour his core support group, AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) and especially his own Kuruba community.