BJP in Karnataka is targeting senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah for reportedly eating non-vegetarian food before visiting a temple in Karnataka’s Kodagu district. BJP leaders are accusing him of hurting religious sentiments.
It was former chief minister’s visit to Basaveshwara temple in Kodlipet that triggered the controversy.
Siddaramaiah tried to downplay the issue and asserted his right to choice of food while questioning as to whether God has prescribed any food while visiting temples. He, however, did not give any clarification on food consumed before visiting the temple.
BJP leaders say feelings hurt
Senior BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal said that local temple traditions should be followed if one wants to visit shrines. “Siddaramaiah or anyone should not hurt the feelings of the faithful. If you (Siddaramaiah) have guts, eat pork and visit a mosque,” he challenged.
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Accusing Siddaramaiah of trying to hurt sentiments of the people, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha pointed to an earlier incident which, he said, was similar. He alleged that Siddaramaiah, when he was chief minister, had offered floral tributes to Goddess Chamundeshwari, the reigning deity of Mysuru, during the Dasara Jamboo Savari procession after eating non-vegetraian food.
“He did this in 2017, I am a witness to it…thereafter, he lost power and could not offer floral tributes from next year,” Simha said, as he addressed Siddaramaiah as Siddu Sultan and accused him of appeasement politics.
Siddaramaiah as CM had been in the middle of a similar controversy — again in 2017 — when he reportedly visited the Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara temple in Dharmasthala of Dakshina Kannada district after consuming a meal of fish fry and country chicken.
State BJP Vice President B Y Vijayendra, said people may have freedom to choose their food but there is culture and tradition in the southern state and people here respect and follow certain religious practices. “Those in big positions should not behave or make statements that hurt sentiments of people,” he said.
Siddaramaiah asserts choice of food
Siddaramaiah on Sunday said he is a non-vegetarian and asked whether God has prescribed what to eat or what not to eat before visiting temples.
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“I had lunch at a guesthouse… Has God prescribed any specific food?… It seems one can consume meat during the night and visit temples the next morning but should not visit a temple in the same evening,” he remarked.
Reacting to BJP’s attack, former MLC and Congress leader in Kodagu district Veena Acchaiah said Siddaramaiah did not have non-vegetarian food the day he visited the temple. “It is true there was chicken curry. But Siddaramaiah had Coorg’s special bamboo shoot curry and akki rotti,” she has said.
Jumping to his father’s defence, Siddaramaiah’s son and Congress MLA Yatindra Siddaramaiah said the BJP was creating unnecessary issues and asserted that everyone has a right over the choice of food.
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State Congress Working President Dhruvanarayan said the ruling party is trying to cover up its failures by raising trivial issues instead of addressing people’s concerns. He said the BJP was trying to malign Siddaramaiah with false propaganda as it feared his popularity.
(With inputs from agencies)