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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: BJP whips up storm over Hubballi student murder to seize poll initiative in Karnataka

The Congress is on the backfoot as their top leaders have neither visited the victim’s house nor severely condemned the incident.
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 01:49 IST
Last Updated : 22 April 2024, 01:49 IST

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The murder of student Neha Hiremath in Hubballi has given the BJP a stick to beat the Congress with ahead of the phase 1 of the Lok Sabha polls while roiling the region with protests.

The Congress is on the backfoot as their top leaders have neither visited the victim’s house nor severely condemned the incident. The BJP, on the other hand, has quickly moved in for the kill, painting the incident as 'love jihad' and alleging that it is another example of the Congress' "appeasement politics".

On Sunday, the saffron party upped the ante as BJP national president J P Nadda dropped in at the victim's house and blasted the Congress over the "personal issue" remark made by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

But what has muddied the optics for the grand old party is Neha's father Niranjanayya Hiremath, a Congress corporator, has taken umbrage at Siddaramaiah and Home Minister G Parameshwara's response. 

"Their tone and tenor indicated that they did not want to take the incident seriously. They did not seem to condemn the killer as he was a Muslim," said a relative of Hiremath.

There is a lot at stake for both the parties. Political observers say the incident has come like a godsend for the BJP, which had been feeling the heat of Congress' guarantees and 'chombu' campaign.

In the 14 seats in North Karnataka, Lingayats hold the key in over 10 constituencies that will go to polls on May 7. Lingayats in the region have traditionally been supporters of the BJP.

As the girl belonged to the Veerashaiva Lingayat community, seers and pontiffs of various Lingayat mutts visited the house and condoled Neha’s death.

Condemning the incident, Nadda said the "BJP will stand solidly behind Neha's parents to deliver her justice”, while the family sought a CBI probe. 

On Friday, BJP MLA and Hindutva hardliner Basangouda Patil Yatnal had slammed the Congress and claimed Neha's death was a case of ‘love jihad’ and such incidents are bound to reoccur during the Congress rule.

Muslims to observe bandh

Amid the tensions, the Anjuman-E-Islam Society in Dharwad has given a call for Muslim business establishments to down their shutters on April 22 to condemn the murder of Neha.

'BJP using murder for political gains'

Taking a swipe at the BJP for holding protests, Women & Child Welfare Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar said the party is trying to use Neha's murder as a poll plank and will forget her once the elections are over.

This is not the first time such a murder has taken place. However, the BJP has never protested. But eyeing sympathy votes, the saffron party is blending politics into the murder, she said.

Tensions rise over murder

The BJP, which was waiting for an issue to corner Cong, has pounced on the incident ahead of LS polls In 14 seats in North Karnataka, Lingayats hold the key in over 10 constituencies that will go to polls on May 7 As the girl belongs to the Veerashaiva Lingayat community, seers and pontiffs of various Lingayat mutts also visited the house 

.Amid 'love jihad' claims, Muslim business establishments have given a bandh call on April 22 to condemn the murder.  Women & Child Welfare Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar said the BJP will forget Neha once polls are over

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Published 22 April 2024, 01:49 IST

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