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BJP very strong, workers told to hit back if touched, take two for one: Karnataka minister

Speaking at a meeting of party workers in his constituency of Shimoga, Eshwarappa, state minister for rural development and panchayat raj, said the BJP has “become very strong” and its workers are now capable of giving back in equal measure when provoked or attacked by rivals.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: August 9, 2021 7:00:57 am
'No question of fielding a Muslim': Karnataka minister on Belagavi Lok Sabha bypollK S Eshwarappa (File photo)

IN A provocative statement, senior BJP leader and a minister in the Karnataka government, K S Eshwarappa, said on Sunday that if a “BJP worker is touched”, the “instruction is to hit back with the same stick” and to “take away two, if even one is taken”.

Speaking at a meeting of party workers in his constituency of Shimoga, Eshwarappa, state minister for rural development and panchayat raj, said the BJP has “become very strong” and its workers are now capable of giving back in equal measure when provoked or attacked by rivals.

“In neighboring Kerala, if any activist went to open a unit of the RSS, they would be murdered for speaking about Hindutva. We did not have the strength to strike back. Today, lakhs of people are with the BJP, and when there is a rally for Hindutva, lakhs gather,” he said.

“In the past, they would murder our activists. Those days, our elders in the Sangh would say stay calm at all costs. We had to be calm, irrespective of the situation and how much we were attacked. We did not have the strength,” he said.

“Today, the BJP has grown the world over, and if a BJP worker is touched anywhere in any corner, the instruction is to hit back with the same stick. In the past, the decision was to stay calm at all costs. Now, the decision is to take away two, if even one is taken. We have become very strong. Nobody will come to trouble us,” Eshwarappa said.

Reacting to his remarks, Congress and SDPI leaders have called for his resignation. State Congress working president Saleem Ahmed said Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai should sack Eshwarappa immediately.

“Eshwarappa is not worthy of being an MLA, let alone a minister, on account of his provocative statements. The Speaker must expel him from the Legislature, the Chief Minister must drop him from the Cabinet, and the Governor should intervene and ensure peace and stability in the state,” said a spokesperson of the Social Democractic Party of India, Afsar Kodipet.

Eshwarappa, a veteran BJP leader who helped build the party in Karnataka along with former CM B S Yediyurappa, is known to frequently make provocative statements on communal lines.

A few days ago, he said the BJP would have a “nationalist leader” as the CM the next time it comes to power since compromises had to be made this time to accommodate many newcomers in the party.

“Whenever we have come to power in the state, it has been with ‘outside support’. I wish that in 2023 the BJP wins a majority on its own. As a veteran leader of the Sangh Parivar, I want to see a true nationalist becoming the CM,” he said.

The statement was an oblique reference to the fact that Bommai is not an original member of the Sangh Parivar or the BJP, but shifted from the JD(U) in 2008.

While Eshwarappa did not make provocative statements when Yediyurappa was the CM, there is apprehension that the BJP may use such remarks by key leaders in the new regime under Bommai to stir up sentiments in the run-up to the 2023 Assembly polls.

Araga Jnanendra, the new home minister who also hails from Shimoga, has also been associated with stirring up communal passions in the past. In 2014, he was linked to protests over a communal flare-up in Thirthahalli region of Shimoga over the suicide death of a schoolgirl.

The death was given a communal turn on the ground that it was caused by a personal relationship with a person from a minority community. A CID probe found the girl’s death was linked to academic issues she was facing following a change of schools.

In 2019, Jnanendra wrote to then CM Yediyurappa seeking dropping of cases against over 300 Hindu youths allegedly involved in violence over the 2014 death of the schoolgirl.

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