Muthalik in and out of BJP within hours

Muthalik in and out of BJP within hours

Following outrage from within and outside, an embarrassed BJP on Sunday withdrew the membership of controversial leader Pramod Muthalik, chief of Sri Rama Sene and alleged prime mover behind the infamous pub attack in Mangalore in 2009, hours after his admission into the party.

Muthalik, who is reportedly facing around 45 cases, including creating enmity between two communities, was inducted into the party in Hubli in the presence of Karnataka BJP president Pralhad Joshi, former chief minister Jagadish Shettar and former deputy chief minister K S Eshwarappa.

Shettar, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, handed over the party flag to Muthalik, who had last week announced that he would contest from the Hubli-Dharwad constituency against Joshi. The BJP’s plan to avoid a contest by inducting Muthalik backfired as many leaders criticised the move.

Central leaders had to intervene to save the Karnataka BJP from salvos fired by own party leaders like Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and influential party sympathisers beside other political parties and the public. Sources said the decision to show Muthalik the door was taken on the direction of BJP chief Rajnath Singh as the leadership felt that such a move would be counter-productive. They felt that the youth being drawn by Narendra Modi would be miffed with such actions. BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar had reportedly suggested Rajnath Singh against inducting Muthalik.

Party’s national spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the central leadership was not consulted. “The state party has been instructed to reject the membership of Muthalik,” she said.

Soon after, Joshi said, “Due to various reasons, induction of Muthalik has been set aside as per the direction of the party’s central leadership.” He confirmed that the decision to induct Muthalik was taken at the state level.

Reacting to the development, Muthalik said he joined the BJP in the morning and he was not aware of the developments. “I am still a member of the party,” he insisted.

He earlier said that he had joined the party without any pre-conditions and he wants to prevent the split in the Hindutva votes. He also announced that the Sri Rama Sene would cease to exist.

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