Jyoti Nivas College students protest BJP CAA campaign
Students of Jyoti Nivas College in Bengaluru stage a protest against BJP workers who forced them to show support for their CAA campaign | Photo - Twitter

BJP's CAA rally runs into rough weather after workers heckle college students

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The pro-citizenship Amendment Act rallies in Karnataka is not going well for the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party that’s ruling the state.

A week after Karnataka BJP MLA Somashekara Reddy was booked for making inciting speech against Muslims and for threatening anti-CAA protesters, many rallies and campaigns that followed in Kolar, Mangaluru, Hospete and Bengaluru, faced stiff resistance from residents, and police intervention followed after workers created ruckus.

Earlier this month, police resorted to lathi charge on BJP supporters in Kolar after they violated rules and disregarded police warning. In Hospete, the local MLA Anand Singh was booed while campaigning, and was advised by the local police not to enter the Muslim dominated area after they residents opposed.

Again, in Mangaluru, some shops and establishments stopped BJP workers from campaigning in a commercial complex on January 9. The local police intervened to stop the groups from getting into a fight.

Also read | Explained: All about Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 and the row over it

Besides, Union Home Minister Amit Shah who was to hold a rally in Mangaluru shifted his pro-CAA rally to Hubbali. This came after many criticised him and urged him not to hold the rally in the coastal city following police excesses that saw the killing of two people.

On January 8, some BJP workers in South Bangalore, while campaigning in favour of the party, heckled Jyoti Nivas College students outside the campus gate. The incident drew much attention after a video of heated argument between the students and the party workers went viral.

In the video, a BJP worker shouted at the students who simply asked them not to put posters outside the college premises.  “You are not concerned about citizenship; you are concerned about yourself. You are not Indians,” a BJP worker was seen telling the college students who questioned his rude behaviour.

While the issue subsided with local police, college security personnel and Congress party leaders intervening at a later stage, the incident stirred a hornet’s nest and turned into a political fight between the BJP and Congress.

Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy who represents BTM Layout constituency, along with his daughter Sowmya Reddy swung into action and assured the college management of support, and requested the ruling party members not to spoil the college environment. His support statement came in after some right-wing goons threatened a JNU kind of violence in Jyoti Nivas College.

Though the objective of the campaign was to garner support, the whole programme has turned against them. A day later, students took to street to protest against the Act by way of a silent march.

Also read | Deepika visits JNU campus, BJP leader seeks boycott of her movies

While BJP MP Tejasvi Surya who emerged from the region remained silent on the issue, he, however, briefed the Deputy Chief Minister CN Aswathnarayan, who sided with the party workers and condemned the Congress leaders for ‘politicising’ the issue. Aswathnarayan told media that students should not have questioned the politician, instead they could have filed a police complaint if they had a problem.

Home Minister Basaravaj Bommai has however said a probe would be ordered on the issue.

The BJP’s nationwide campaign in favour of the law kickstarted last week. State leaders, including Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and deputy CMs, are holding door-to-door awareness campaigns.

However, instead of creating awareness, in many cases the party workers were forcing people show their support, be it for the signature campaigns or political rallies, resulting in police action.

The issue drew strong criticism after the Bengaluru incident as Congress leaders warned the BJP asked them to maintain law and order.

“Educational institutions are a source of dissemination of knowledge, critical thinking and scientific temper. BJP ideology is on weak foundations of fascism. They are threatened by the knowledge base of our universities,” former chief minister Siddaramaiah said.

“Mr Yediyurappa, I strictly warn you to control hooligans from your party,” he added.

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