Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, DH file photo
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday kicked up a controversy by comparing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal members to terrorists. The remark sparked off a bitter verbal duel between the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP.
"RSS and Bajrang Dal members are also like terrorists," Siddaramaiah told reporters in Chamarajanagar on Wednesday. He was responding to a question on the BJP's demand for a ban on Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), which is accused of involvement in the recent murder of Hindu worker Deepak Rao in Surathkal.
"The government will not tolerate disruption of peace and harmony by any organisation, be it the PFI, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), RSS, Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and others," he added. On banning PFI, Siddaramaiah said there was no proper evidence to fix the outfit.
BJP general secretary C T Ravi reacted strongly at the chief minister's comment and demanded "an immediate apology" from him. "If RSS and BJP karyakartas are terrorists, what will you call the crores of Indians who support us? This anti-Hindu, gau-bhakshak is a disgrace to not only the CM's post but also to sensible and peaceful Kannadigas," Ravi tweeted.
The RSS is the BJP's ideological parent whereas the Bajrang Dal is considered to be a member of the Sangh Parivar, an umbrella term used to refer to Hindu nationalist organisations. Siddaramaiah's barb comes in the wake of the BJP using the Hindutva plank to mount its attack on the ruling Congress ahead of the Assembly polls.
Stoking the fire further, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) working president Dinesh Gundu Rao said even the BJP will have to be banned along with outfits such as the PFI and SDPI. "BJP's Shobha Karandlaje demands a ban on SDPI and PFI. The government has made arrests in cases where they were involved. But if the same rule is applied, we'll have to ban the BJP, the Bajrang Dal and the Sangh Parivar. Your activists are getting involved in murders. What's your answer?" Rao asked, during a protest organised by the Congress-backed National Students Union of India at Anand Rao Circle. The student body was protesting the death of a teenage girl who was allegedly harassed by BJP youth workers for befriending a Muslim boy.