A BJP MLA from Karnataka has stoked controversy by calling intellectuals anti-nationals and asserting that he would have ordered to shoot them if he were the state’s home minister.
Known for making controversial remarks, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, an MLA from Bijapur City in north Karnataka, had made headlines earlier this year when he had reportedly asked Bijapur City councillors to help only Hindus, and not Muslims, as they had voted for him. A purported video of the incident had gone viral on the social media.
Earlier, he had called Kashmiris anti-national.
At a meeting organised to mark Kargil Vijay Diwas in Bijapur on Thursday, Yatnal said: “The biggest danger to the nation is from the intellectuals and secularists. If I were home minister, I would finish all by shooting them. They eat the food of this country, breathe the air, drink the water and enjoy the development done with the tax payers money, but raise slogans against our Army.”
Yatnal, a former Union minister who returned to the BJP folds this year after a five-year exile following his differences with the party, on Friday clarified that his comments were directed against the “false intellectuals” in the country.
“False intellectuals are engaged in anti-national activities. They support people, like Kanhaiya Kumar (former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union), and people who talk against the nation. Such people should not be living in the country,” he said.
He claimed that his statement was not aimed at any specific intellectual or individual and that he was not referring to the killings of journalist Gauri Lankesh and Kannada writer M M Kalburgi. “I have condemned their killings,” he said.
In January, Union Minister and Sirsi MP Ananth Kumar Hegde had derided intellectuals, poets and writers as people in pursuit of government largesse.
At an event in the Belagavi region of Karnataka, Hegde had said: “They call themselves intellectuals because they want government sites. We are supposed to assume what they write is literature and poetry.”