Updated: April 18, 2022 10:42:26 am
Attacking the Congress in the wake of recent incidents of communal violence, BJP national president J P Nadda indicated on Sunday at a public meeting in the Vijayanagara region of Karnataka that his party will be targeting the main opposition party in the run-up to the 2023 polls on the issue of dropping of cases in the state against activists of the radical Popular Front of India (PFI).
Speaking at a public rally following a meeting of the BJP state executive, Nadda drew a reference to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s speech earlier, when he accused the Congress and its former chief minister Siddaramaiah of dropping cases against PFI activists in the past. Nadda said the Congress speaks against terrorism but releases terrorists.
“I want to speak a bit on what I have understood of the speech in Kannada by the Chief Minister. You spoke about the PFI and how there is an effort to create disturbances by this group in society,” Nadda said.
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“You must have seen, there’s an attack on the Ram Navami shobha yatra somewhere, something else at another place. This is Mr Bommai’s subject, he is the Chief Minister, the Home Minister. He will certainly investigate the details of it. But on the face of it, I can say, ki yeh designed tareeke se samaj ko khandith karne ki koshish ho rahi hai (this is an attempt to split the society in a designed manner),” Nadda said.
“I am sad to say that today the Congress party is behaving in the most irresponsible manner,” he said.
Targeting Siddaramaiah, Nadda said: “Aur mein yeh poochna chahunga, ki kya PFI ke logon ko joh on-books laaye gaye the, unke chhudane ka kaam Siddaramaiah ne kiya tha ki nahin kya tha? Iski Karnatak ki janta jawab chahti hai (I wish to ask, did Siddaramaiah release the PFI people who were once booked or not? The people of Karnataka demand an answer).”
Echoing Bommai’s remarks, Nadda said: “Aatankwad ke khilaf bolte ho, aur aatankwadiyon ko chodte ho. Andar se dosti rakhte ho, aur baahar mukhota lekarke chalte ho. Inko parda farsh karna aur doodh ka doodh paani ka paani bataana, yeh BJP zameen pe jaake karegi (You speak against terrorism, and you release terrorsts. You maintain a friendship inside but put on a mask outside. The BJP will work on the ground to expose them and make things clear).”
The BJP leader also said that corruption and the Congress party were synonyms. “Where there is the Congress, there is corruption and where there is Congress, there is commission, and they are two sides of the same coin. Where there is BJP, there will be a mission,” he said.
The Congress, when it was in power between 2013 and 2018 under the leadership of Siddaramaiah, had ordered the dropping of cases against nearly 175 activists of the PFI. The majority of the PFI activists were linked to cases of violating prohibitory orders to stage protests in Mysuru during communal tensions. The BJP had objected to the dropping of cases at the time.
On Sunday, Siddaramiah posted on social media that the Congress did not discriminate against criminals on the basis of caste and religion. “We abide by the truth and the law of the land. We are in favor of free and fair action by the police. We oppose politically motivated actions,” he said.
Nadda’s speech came on a day when prohibitory orders were clamped in Karnataka’s Hubballi after protesters damaged police vehicles and pelted stones over a morphed post on social media.
On Saturday, communal clashes broke out in northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri following a shobha yatra organised to mark Hanuman Jayanti. On the same day, several people were injured in stone pelting at Holagunda of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh during a Hanuman Jayanti procession.
Several other incidents of communal clashes have been reported this month, particularly from Khargone in Madhya Pradesh, which was linked to a Ram Navami procession, and Karauli in Rajasthan.
Hitting back at Nadda, the Congress asked why the BJP government has not acted against the PFI.
Without addressing Nadda’s charge directly, Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said: “As far as the PFI is concerned, will J P Nadda explain what is his excuse for not acting against the PFI in the last eight years? We all know the real reason, perhaps there may be some kind of jugalbandi.”
Surjewala said that taking out a “shobha yatra” has been “part of the syncretic tradition” of India and “we rarely saw communal disharmony around it”.
“Today, widespread incidents are being reported from places where the BJP wants to reap political dividends, including in Karnataka where Nadda was speaking. Doesn’t he know that the BJP and its fringe elements are spewing venomous speeches and inciting violence. Why is the Prime Minister silent on it? Why doesn’t Home Minister Amit Shah take action against those who are indulging in violence? They won’t because it helps them keeping the country in a permanent communal frenzy,” he said.
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