Bengaluru: People across Karnataka, shocked by “the insult heaped by the Congress party on the followers of Hanumanji,” have started holding protest demonstrations outside Congress offices across the state and burning its election manifesto, while hundreds of Ram and Hanuman temples are getting ready for the chanting of ‘Hanuman Chalis’ by thousands of devotees to register their anger against the Congress.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is campaigning in Karnataka, led the outrage against the Congress party’s declaration in its election manifesto threatening to “ban Bajrang Dal and the PFI.”
“The Congress party which had jailed Shri Ram for years, now wants to put behind bars the followers of Shri Hanuman. “Why this hatred against Shri Ram and Shri Hanuman?” PM Modi remarked.
He said it was most unfortunate that the ‘news’ of acting against Hanuman bhakts had come when he was at Hospet, which is close to Anjanadri hills, the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. The Karnataka government has set aside Rs 100 crore in its budget to develop Anjanadri as a tourist destination. As he travelled from Hospet to Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada for the election campaign, the Prime Minister began with the slogan, “Bajrangbali ki jai” which echoed back from the massive crowds thronging his meetings.
Congress sets fire to own tents
With less than a week to go for the Karnataka Assembly polls, the Congress party appears to have set fire to its own tents by equating nationalist organisation Bajrang Dal with the People’s Front of India (PFI), an Islamic terror outfit, leading to widespread anger and protests across the state.
The Congress election manifesto, apart from making many wild and unrealistic promises, stated in the very preamble that the Congress would “take decisive action as per law against organisations such as Bajrang Dal and PFI for promoting enmity or hatred among either minority or majority communities.”
Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said that comparing an organisation working for unification of the Hindu society with an anti-national terrorist outfit was “an insult to all Indians” and the devotees of Hanuman would rise in revolt and “uproot the Congress party from Karnataka.” Bajrang Dal’s parent body, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad termed it “the most unfortunate moment in the country’s political history.”
Realising that its election ‘promise’ to please the minority community could boomerang spectacularly, the Congress leaders have begun some damage control exercises. Former chief minister Veerappa Moily claimed that there was no proposal to ban Bjarang Dal as “we have not done earlier and have no plans to do it in future either.” He said considering the Supreme Court’s ‘directive’ to put a break on hate speech, the Congress party wanted to initiate strict measures to maintain communal harmony in society.
Shivakumar, the ‘fake’ bhakt
KPCC president DK Shivakumar, who is dreaming of becoming the chief minister for the first time, said Congress was “committed” to its declaration of action against Bajrang Dal as an organisation, but, “there is no link between Bajrang Dal and Hanuman. We are also devotees of Human….If the BJP workers recite Hanuman Chalis only during election time, we do it every day,” displaying his fake devotion to Lord Hanuman.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, party general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar and manifesto committee chairman Parameshwar were huddled together till late into the night to devise plans to douse the fire over the ‘insult to Hanumanji’ and re-focus the campaign on its pet subjects of “corruption, maladministration, price rise and 40% commission” which were paying dividends. There was even a discussion on withdrawing the ban proposal but it was felt that it would weaken the party’s position further.
Sources said the proposal to ban Banjrang Dal along with PFI was deliberately mooted to woo the Muslim voters away from the Janata Dal (Secular) and the PFI which has put up candidates in about 30 constituencies. Congress is worried that the JD(S) is capable of damaging its prospects in about 30 to 40 constituencies and thereby hurting its goal of attaining majority.
PM refers to 85% loot
The Congress leaders are also apprehensive about the impact of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s extensive campaign and roadshows which are drawing huge crowds. The Prime Minister, in his stinging speeches, has begun turning the screws on “the history of corruption” the Congress has indulged in.
He has repeatedly referred to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s admission that only 15% of central funds used to reach the common man and pointed out that since Congress ruled ‘from parliament to the panchayats’ those days, “85% of the loot used to go into the pockets of the party workers and leaders.”
Referring to bitter personal attacks against him, indulged in by Congress president Kharge and his son, Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister interpreted it as a sign of “hatred” against him as he had permanently closed the sources of looting of subsidies.
He said his government had uncovered one lakh fake cooking gas subsidies, 30 lakh dubious education subsidies, one crore fake widow pensions and in total, had saved funds going into around 4 crore fake accounts “mostly belonging to Congress leaders from top to bottom.”
The Prime Minister will be rounding off his efforts with two massive roadshows in Bengaluru city covering 36 km and 18 Assembly constituencies on Saturday. He will be touching Mahadevapura (which has a large number of IT companies and their employees), KR Pura, CV Ramannagar, Shivajinagar and Shantinagar in the morning, and the middleclass-dominated southern and western parts, including Bengaluru South, Jayanagar, Padmanabhanagar, Basavanagudi, Chickpet, Chamarajpet, Gandhinagar, Mahalakshmi Layout, Vijayanagar, Govindrajanagar, Rajajinagar and Malleshwara. In 2018, BJP had won only 11 out of 28 seats in Bengaluru city and it is determined to double its tally this time.