Kar Sevak’s arrest helps a divided K’taka BJP regain its momentum
Bengaluru, Jan 7 (IANS) The Congress which had been enjoying a dream run in Karnataka due to the successful implementation of its guarantee schemes, is now facing Opposition heat.
The arrest of an alleged Kar Sevak in Hubballi in connection with a 31-year-old arson case during the Ram Janmabhoomi movement has provided the much-needed momentum to the Opposition in the state.
The BJP claims that the arrest was intentional, aimed at intimidating Ram bhakts and dissuading them from public activities around the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Efforts by the ruling government, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara, to douse the fire by pointing out that the arrested man, Srikanth Poojari, had 16 criminal cases against him, have had no effect.
Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Assembly, R Ashoka, challenged the government’s claim, stating that 15 out of the 16 cases against Srikanth Poojari have already concluded, and one is related to disappearance.
Former Minister KS Eshwarappa challenged the government to prove the 16 cases, pledging to publicly apologise if they do.
However, Home Minister Parameshwara, responded to the BJP’s criticism by clarifying that he never alluded that Srikanth Poojari was facing 16 cases at present. He stated, “There were 16 cases registered against Poojari. I have never said that he is facing 16 cases now.”
During court proceedings, it was argued that the accused, Poojari, had been absconding for 31 years, but his counsel submitted that he had been residing at the same address for the last 40 years, attending court, obtaining bails, and cooperating with the police. The court granted conditional bail to Poojari.
The conditional bail to Poojari gave more ammunition to the BJP and Ashoka slammed the government for its action against him.
“Siddaramaiah, you blatantly lied that Srikanth Poojari has 16 pending cases against him. Sri Ram will never pardon you. Among the 16 cases against Poojari, 15 have been logically concluded,” he remarked.
The saffron party found support from its ally the JD(S) and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy accused the government of oppressing ‘Kar Sevaks’ to divert attention from its failure to handle drought and farmer suicides.
Former Prime Minister and national President of JD(S), HD Deve Gowda, asserted that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his party is determined to end the Congress era in Karnataka.
The RSS and the BJP in Karnataka have outlined a plan to reach out to over 29,000 villages in the state ahead of the inauguration of the Ram temple on January 22 by distributing Mantrakshate (raw rice used for worship), a photograph of the Ram Mandir and handbills brought from Ayodhya.
The Congress leaders argue that just as the BJP did not gain support after the Congress’ proposal to ban the Bajrang Dal during the Assembly elections, the row over the arrest of an alleged Kar Sevak will also not help the saffron party.
However, sources indicate that the Congress is genuinely worried about the polarisation of the Hindu vote bank — comprising among others of Backward Classes and Dalits — ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, following the inauguration of the Ram temple.
Meanwhile, the arrest episode has provided the saffron party with an opportunity to galvanise its party workers ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, indicating a tough political fight in the forthcoming elections.