Karnataka campaign goes high-voltage as BJP corners Congress over Bajrang Dal ban


Bajrang Dal members stage a protest against Congress's manifesto for Karnataka Assembly elections, in Dehradun on Thursday (ANI)

Congress’ promise to ban Bajrang Dal has drawn criticism from the BJP with its leaders coming out in defense of the organization and slamming the grand old party

Our Bureau

Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader KS Eshwarappa on Thursday burnt the Congress manifesto released for the upcoming state Assembly polls for the party’s promise to ban Bajrang Dal on the lines of the Popular Front of India if voted to power.

Eshwarappa alleged that state Congress president DK Shivakumar and senior leader Siddaramaiah promoted “casteism” in the state and demanded the Election Commission to arrest both leaders. “Both Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar and Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah have been promoting casteism in the state. For doing this, the people of Karnataka have already rejected them. Bajrang Dal is a nationalist outfit and always will be. But Congress wants to name Bajrang Dal with PFI,” the BJP leader said.

“People of Karnataka will reject them in the upcoming elections. But before that, I put this before the Election Commission to arrest Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah,” he added.

Congress’ promise to ban Bajrang Dal has drawn criticism from the BJP with its leaders coming out in defense of the organization and slamming the grand old party.

With a week to go for assembly polls in Karnataka, political parties have stepped up their campaign and senior leaders of BJP, Congress and JD-S addressed rallies and held roadshows to woo voters on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed rallies in the state and accused Congress of “abuse culture”. BJP chief JP Nadda, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Janata Dal-Secular leader HD Kumaraswamy also campaigned in the state. Sources said Congress parliamentary party chairperson Sonia Gandhi will campaign in Karnataka polls on May 6 and address a rally in Hubbali district.

Addressing a rally in Uttara Kannada, PM Modi said the people of Karnataka do not support the “black culture” of abuses and said they should punish those making hurling such words by saying ‘Jai Bajrangbali’ when they cast their vote.

The Prime Minister said BJP wants to make Karnataka the number one state in India and has a roadmap and a plan.

Attacking Congress, he said a way to seek votes “is to abuse Modi”.

“What is the other way to seek votes, abuse Modi, abuses are being hurled…does anyone in Karnataka accept black culture, like a culture where anyone can abuse, accept a culture of abuse…does Karnataka forgive those who hurl abuses. What will you do this time, will you punish… when you press the button at the polling booth, punish those who abuse by saying ‘Jai Bajrangbali’,” he said.

Polling for Karnataka elections will take place on May 10 and counting of votes will take place on May 13.

Addressing a rally in Vijayanagara on Tuesday, PM Modi had slammed Congress over its Karnataka election manifesto and said the party was attempting to lock up those who worship Lord Hanuman.

“Today it is my great fortune to bow down to this holy land of Lord Hanuman. But see the misfortune, today when I have come here to bow down to Hanumanji, at the same time the Congress party has decided to lock up Bajrangbali in its manifesto. Earlier Shri Ram was locked up and now they have taken a pledge to lock up those who chant Jai Bajrangbali. It is the misfortune of the country that the Congress had problems even with Lord Shri Ram and now it also has problems with those who say Jai Bajrangbali,” he had said.

Addressing an election rally in Bailhongal earlier on Wednesday, PM Modi attacked Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) and said people of the state must be careful about the ‘shortcut politics’ of the two parties.

 Amid the row over the Congress manifesto mentioning the ban on the Bajrang Dal outfit, former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy said that the grand old party is raising the issue now but did nothing during their rule in the state.

The remarks came in the wake of Congress’ manifesto for the May 10 Assembly elections in Karnataka, wherein the party bracketed outlawed Popular Front of India (PFI) and Bajrang Dal together and stated it would ban the organizations once it is voted to power. “All those things are not important. When Congress Govt ruled for 5 years, why did they not ban it then? Why are they raising the issue now? We have to change the culture of those organizations. We have to teach them how to behave in public life. That is important,” says JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy.

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