Karnataka is in news these days because of statements of former chief minister and Opposition leader Siddaramaiah even as political parties are getting ready for Assembly elections in April 2023.
Siddaramaiah has become the sole target of the BJP after his successful birthday bash Siddaramotsava at Davanagere which attracted a huge gathering. The birthday celebrations also managed to send a message to Congress workers about Siddaramaiah’s stake in party leadership as well as united the party in front of Rahul Gandhi.
So, it seems, the BJP, the ruling party, is closely watching Siddaramaiah’s every move and action and reacting to it – whether it is in form of an egg attack on his car or targeting him on his remarks against Savarkar, eating non-veg food, etc.
While his statements against Veer Savarkar seem to have become a placard for BJP to use against the Congress, the ‘chicken politics’, which initially seemed to have gone against Siddaramaiah’s Congress, has now turned into a debate between consuming vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Siddaramaiah’s team has succeeded in throwing the ball back to BJP’s court.
Also read: Did not eat meat the day I visited temple: Congress leader Siddaramaiah
Siddaramaiah’s recent visit to a Basaveshwara temple in Kodlipet triggered a controversy popularly known as “Chicken Politics’! He was accused by the BJP of hurting religious sentiments for having non-vegetarian food before visiting the temple. The former chief minister asserted his right to choice of food while asking whether god has prescribed any food while visiting temples.
Though BJP leaders intensifies their attacks on Siddaramaiah, he got support for eating non-vegetarian food from Pramod Mutalik of Sri Rama Sene, a pro-Hindu group. Even a famous astrologer Daivajna Somayaji, who declared himself an orthodox brahmin, did not support BJP saying that Siddaramaiah is not a person who hates brahmins or vegetarians, but a kind-hearted person to take everyone together.
Meanwhile, a large number of non-vegetarians have started sharing posts saying eating non-veg or veg is their right of food and one cannot question it. Thousands of people started sharing a document that talks about percentage of non-vegetarians in each state – according to it, Karnataka has around 78.9 per cent non-vegetarians and India as a whole has around 71 per cent. These social media shares are based on a national survey conducted in 2014 and data released by the Office of Registrar General & Census Commissioner.
Old photographs are also popping up on social media showing former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee eating non-veg food and it is juxtaposed against the photo of Siddaramaiah eating chicken. Apart from that, according to a BJP leader, the majority of BJP leaders are also non-veg lovers and thus this strategy of BJP did not work out.
BJP workers’ act of throwing eggs at Siddaramaiah’s car during his official visit to Kodagu made even the BJP leaders condemn it. CM Basavaraja Bommai and former CM BS Yediyurappa asked the BJP workers not to go protest in this way.
Also read: Kodagu: BJP workers stop Siddaramaiah’s car, throw eggs
When the incident started hurting the BJP, party leaders announced that eggs were thrown by a Congress worker. This irked Siddaramaiah and he expressed surprise that ‘Operation Lotus’ was operating at this level too. Congress issued a statement saying that a BJP leader was behind the scene when eggs were being thrown at Siddaramaiah’s car.
In protest, Siddaramaiah announced a march in Kodagu on August 26. However, the Kodagu district commissioner declared three days of prohibitory orders in the region. The Congress has now announced that the protest has been postponed as the DC had ordered prohibitory orders on the scheduled date.
War over Savarkar!
Former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who is back in BJP’s scheme of things, has inaugurated a “Savarkar Chariot” (Savarkar Ratha) at Siddaramaiah’s home turf of Mysore. It is the place where Devanuru Mahadeva wrote a book titled RSS – Ala Mattu Agala, and theatre personality Prasanna Heggodu started a movement with play Olashunti, mocking the new and controversial tricolour policy which allows the national flag to be made of polyester.
Siddaramaiah’s statement against Veer Savarkar attracted BJP’s wrath and eventually, to counter it, the issue of Tippu Sultan was brought up. This led to tension in Shivamogga city during Independence day, resulting in the stabbing of two youths in separate incidents. Though the situation was brought to control, the war of words between Siddaramaiah and BJP leaders continued on Savarkar.
Now the Savarkar Chariot will move around Mysore and other districts and, according to the plan, it will try to make people aware of Savarkar, sources said. At the same time, Hindu ideologist Chakravarthy Soolibele said in Mangalore that they are bringing out a booklet on Veer Savarkar and they will take it to every household. The book will give details of Savarkar and his contribution to India’s freedom struggle, he said.
Also read: Yediyurappa flags off Savarkar Rath Yatra in Mysuru
It is said that the booklet will be sold on the lines of the bestseller booklet, RSS: Aala Mattu Agala (RSS-Depth and Breadth), penned by the prominent Kannada writer Devanur. Devanur’s book mainly quoted the writings of Golwalkar, Savarkar and Hegdewar – who all had a role in shaping the right-wing organisation’s ideology. Their quotes show how they justified the caste system and opposed the Constitution and federalism.
It’s looking more and more like a cock fight, a popular gambling sport in rural Karnataka, between the Congress and the BJP. The tragedy, however, is that issues concerning people like inflation, sluggish economy, unemployment, etc., have been relegated to the back burner as a result.