New low in Karnataka political debate: SIDDARAMAIAH HITS SELF-GOAL
The quality of political debate in Karnataka touched a new low with chief minister Siddaramaiah calling BJP and RSS terror organisations and its workers terrorists. However, as every coward and chicken-hearted politician does, Siddaramaiah too blamed the media for “quoting him out of context” and asserted that he only called the RSS and BJP workers as “extremists” and not “terrorists. Now the world should, perhaps, learn the difference between terrorists and extremists from Siddaramaiah!
Karnataka has been witnessing a war of words between the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP on the issue of cold-blooded murder of RSS/BJP workers in the communally-sensitive coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada. While the Congress government had maintained a convenient silence over the killings of the Hindu workers, the BJP, however, has said that the Hindu workers are being killed by the jehadi forces represented by the controversial and dubious organisation, Popular Front of India (PFI) activists.
Condemning the BJP for “politicising” the issue of murder of RSS/BJP workers, Siddaramaiah, in a fit of anger, described the RSS and BJP as terror organisation and its workers as terrorists. BJP general secretary Shobha Karandlaje immediately announced launching of a state-wide “Jail Bharo” campaign – “Nanu RSS; Nanu BJP; Nannannu Bandhisi” (I am RSS; I am BJP; Arrest Me). The campaign theme was almost on the lines of “Nanu Gauri” that was held in October-November-December last year to express solidarity with the controversial journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh on September 5, last year.
Siddaramaiah’s, rather, dangerous and controversial comment of describing the RSS/BJP as terror organisation have been severely condemned by the people, first in the social media and next in the form of Letters to the Editor in leading dailies. Worse, original Congressmen are angry with the chief minister’s comment. “You know how quick the RSS/BJP cadre use this opportunity. This has potential to snowball into a great crisis for the Congress,” a top leader, told Uday India on the conditions of anonymity. He asserted that he is a die-hard, original Congressman and not a migrant, obviously referring to the Janata Pariwar background of his chief minister.
Going by the, rather, bizarre logic of Siddaramaiah – that the RSS/BJP are terror organisations and its workers are terrorists as President Ramnath Kovind, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also come within the bracket of terrorists, as everyone of them have called themselves proud swayamsevaks of the RSS and they are from the BJP!
The fallout of this bizarre logic does not end with the BJP but extends to Congress also. Quipped a senior Congress leader, “By Siddaramaiah’s logic, even Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is a terrorist because it was Nehru who wrote a letter to second chief of RSS, Guruji Golwalkar and requested him to send a contingent of RSS swayamsevaks to participate in the Republic Day Parade in January 1963. Where will we stand now?
Siddaramaiah, of late, has become the proverbial loose cannon and his comments could boomerang on the Congres thus proving counter-productive. “We all know how Mani Shankar Iyer’s comments, first in 2014 and later during the recent Gujarat elections proved our nemesis. There is an element of truth in what the BJP leaders say that the chief minister has shown his frustration and desperation by making this needless comment,” admitted another Congress leader.
State BJP President B. S. Yeddyurappa, who has succeeded in creating an anti-Congress and pro-BJP storm by his marathon 75-day Parivarthan Yatra, said, “The frustration of the Congress party in general and chief minister in particular is showing. Siddaramaiah has realised that the BJP has succeeded to usher in a silent revolution at the grass-root level which is going to prove devastating to the Congress. His desperate statements and intemperate language are the signs of frustration.”
After first day’s “Jail Bharo” programme on Friday where about 8,000 workers courted arrest in 22 districts, Siddaramaiah, however, changed his tack and asserted, rather, sheepishly, that he called BJP and RSS as extremist organisations and their workers as extremists and not terrorists. A bizarre explanation indeed! Continuing his defence he said, “What else should I call them who plays politics over dead body in Dakshina Kannada district”?
But Shobha Karandlaje retorted, “Siddaramaiah has, perhaps, forgotten, that it was the Congress party that played politics over dead body of Smt Indira Gandhi. Even as her body lay in state in her residence, Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister, even before the cremation and that too when he was undergoing the period of what we call “soothaka” (Inauspicious period).
Later, it is the same Congressmen who went round the country explaining how Indira was shot dead and sought votes. Again, in May 1991, when Rajiv Gandhi died due to bomb blast, the Congress went round the country during the second and third phase of the elections and sought votes. Now, who is doing politics over dead body? Congress or BJP?” this fiery BJP general secretary asked.
Echoing and amplifying Siddaramaiah’s statement is Dinesh Gundu Rao, working President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). It is rather unusual for this suave and sober young leader, Dinesh Gundu Rao to be going all out against the RSS/BJP which was unheard from him.
Whether this comment of Siddaramaiah is going to prove costly to the Congress and benefit BJP is a moot point. It is debatable. But what is dangerous and could prove embarrassing for India is that the country’s enemies – both inside and outside – can use this statement of Siddaramaiah and say that India’s Prime Minister and top executives are terrorists. “Siddaramaiah ought not to have made this remark,” is the general opinion not only of the political leaders but also the general masses.
How the Congress will wriggle itself out of this situation is to be keenly watched. Meanwhile the BJP is determined to keep this issue boiling.
By S. A. Hemantha Kumar from Bengaluru