The Congress will not shy away from talking about ‘Hinduism’ or ‘Hindutva’ during its campaign in the run-up to Assembly elections in Karnataka. In fact, it will seek to differentiate between the two. The party high command, however, on Saturday asked its leaders, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, to be cautious and refrain from using words which could be twisted.
The issue came up for discussion at a meeting chaired by Congress president Rahul Gandhi with Siddaramaiah and top Congress leaders from the state. The meeting, though prescheduled, came amid a war of words between Siddaramaiah and the BJP over his reported remarks on the BJP and RSS. In the last couple of days, the CM had been reported to have called the BJP and RSS Hindutva extremists and on one occasion argued that the organisations have terrorists within.
“I am also a Hindu, but I’m a Hindu with humanity, they are Hindus without humanity. That is the difference between me and (them),” he was also quoted as saying on one occasion.
The BJP had hit back, alleging it was the Congress that supported separatists and dared the CM to arrest its as well as RSS leaders. It also submitted a complaint to the police seeking action against the CM for using “inflammatory” and “derogatory” remarks branding members of the party and RSS as “terrorists”.
While the meeting discussed the overall strategy, sources said the controversy too came up. It was decided that the party should counter aggressively if the BJP indulges in polarising tactics. But Rahul is learnt to have asked the leaders to be cautious and not give the BJP a chance to twist their remarks.
“We have to differentiate between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva is a political connotation of Savarkar and Hinduism is what Gandhi and Vivekananda preached. Sarva Dharma Sambhava… Hindutva is opposed to the Constitution, opposed to the equality… that is what was discussed,” a senior leader who attended the meeting said.
“We follow the Hinduism of Mahatma Gandhi and Vivekananda. They follow the Hindutva of Savarkar which is opposed to the Constitution, opposed to the national flag,” he said. Rahul will launch the first leg of the Congress campaign on February 10. He will be in the state for three days from February 10. His earlier plan was to visit the state in the last week of January, but had to reschedule it because of the Parliament’s Budget session.