As Karnataka inches closer to assembly elections, the BJP and the Congress campaigns are getting nastier as the BJP finds itself pushed into a corner over the way it treated prominent Lingayat leaders, and the Congress on the back-foot because of its leaders' recent remarks.
The statements by leaders of the grand old party regarding 'corrupt' Lingayat chief ministers and comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a 'poisonous snake' (later withdrawn) have given the BJP much-needed ammunition to counter the narrative the Congress spun around former CM Jagadish Shettar and ex-Deputy CM Laxman Savadi, both prominent Lingayat leaders, who joined the Congress after quitting the BJP on being denied tickets.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come down heavily on the Congress over remarks made by Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge.
The BJP was waiting for a long time to attack Siddaramaiah as he is a known critic of the RSS and Hindutva.
Siddaramaiah is the only leader from the state to attack PM Modi, Amit Shah and, is still not targeted by any central agencies.
Kharge surprised everyone with his remarks of comparing PM Modi to a poisonous snake. Though he withdrew his statement and maintained that it was issued with reference to Hindutva ideology and the RSS agenda, the BJP got an opportunity to make din, and the humiliation of Lingayat leadership charge was put to back-burner.
While campaigning in Varuna constituency in Mysuru district, Siddaramaiah stated that Lingayat CMs indulged in corruption and destroyed the state.
Though Siddaramaiah clarified that his statement was meant only for current Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, a controversy was stirred.
Kharge, while addressing a public rally at Naregal town of Gajendragarh in Gadag district of Karnataka, stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is like a poisonous snake. Kharge further warned the crowd that if you taste any offers by snake (Modi), you will die.
He also said that the BJP should tell what is its contribution to the country.
"Not even the pet dog of their home had given its life to the country," Kharge said.
Union Minister Amit Shah who has launched an aggressive campaign in Karnataka declared that attacks on PM Modi will only create 'waves' for him and help the BJP.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani stated that the Congress is such a party, when an Adivasi woman was made candidate for the post of President, it humiliated her. It had made those who insult Hindu religion as star campaigners.
"Congress seeks support of SDPI, it talks of releasing PFI goons. Today, Congress leaders are again criticising PM Modi. Kharge saheb is older than me. This insecurity does not bring dignity to you," she said.
V.P. Niranjan Aradhya, an activist and senior academician, told IANS that right from the beginning, "what we are claiming is that no issue concerning people is being discussed at all".
"Only matters of caste, religion, pitting one community against another is happening.
"The twist in the tale is, so far the general feeling was BJP hated Muslims. Now, they are breaking communities. The attempt to create characters of Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda were created to pit Vokkaligas against Muslims, removal of quota of reservations for Muslims and pit them against Vokkaligas and Lingayats, this is very dirty politics," Niranjan Aradhya said.
He further said: "Absolutely, there is no morality and value-based politics. Particularly talking about the Constitution and the Constitutional values, fundamental rights, issues are totally absent. With Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi's exit, it is more or less proved that the BJP is a Brahminical party, completely controlled by the RSS.
"I think the people of Karnataka should think seriously. All these days, it has been about Hindus and Muslims. Not only this, they will not allow Hindus to live peacefully as well. People should think and go by the Constitution. Pluralism, multiculturalism, multilingualism and more than anything diversity are challenged and being erased. This is the right time to take a call," Niranjan Aradhya added.
The Assembly election in Karnataka is scheduled to be held on May 10 and the result would be announced on May 13.