Sparks fly in Karnataka Assembly over Ayodhya Ram temple, Hanuma Dwaja incident

Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Wednesday witnessed heated exchanges between the opposition BJP and the ruling Congress members on the Ram Mandir and the Hanuman flag issue.
Last Updated : 14 February 2024, 13:46 IST

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Bengaluru: The Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Wednesday witnessed heated exchanges between the opposition BJP and the ruling Congress members on the Ram Mandir and the Hanuman flag issue, during the debate on the law and order situation in the state.

Listing out various incidents recently, Leader of the Opposition R Ashoka targeted the Siddaramaiah administration, alleging deterioration of law and order situation in the state, during the discussion on the motion of thanks to the Governor's address to the joint sitting of the state Legislature.

As Ashoka referred to the arrest of Shrikanth Pujari in connection with a 1992 violence case during the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, ahead of the consecration of the Lord Ram Lalla idol at the temple in Ayodhya, calling him a 'karsevak,' the Congress members objected stating that Pujari had a criminal background and was involved in matka-related cases.

Congress members claimed the BJP was insulting real karsevaks and were giving a new definition for karsevak, by using the term to refer to Shrikanth Pujari.

Following this, there was a slug fest between the two sides as several BJP members alleged that the Congress governments had filed false cases against those involved in Ram Janmabhoomi agitation and karsevaks in the past too.

Ashoka questioned the intention behind Pujari's recent arrest, after 'such a long period', and alleged that it seems to have been done to send a message to other karsevaks and Lord Ram Bhakts ahead of Ram Mandir inauguration.

BJP MLA and the party's state General Secretary V Sunil Kumar said the Congress was a party that officially 'boycotted' the Ram Mandir inauguration, and today they are talking about karsevaks.

"This (boycotting temple inauguration) shows their devotion (towards lord Ram)...what morality do they have," he told Congress members including Minister Priyank Kharge who took strong objection and tried to justify their party's stand.

"Answer to the objections raised by Shankaracharyas' first, not us," Kharge said.

Further, Ashoka pointed out that the Congress had an objection about President of India not being invited for inaugurating the temple, before deciding to boycott the event.

Kharge and some Congress MLAs ten said, "it (objection) was against the trust (Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra). What's BJP's interest in it? Why does the BJP repeatedly speak about it (Congress boycotting), when it was not a Central government event?"

Sunil Kumar said: "It (Ram Mandir) is our interest. It was our commitment. We had said the temple would come up at the spot and we have ensured it. It was our commitment."

This again led to chaos, with the BJP members, thumping the desks, engaging in a verbal duel with Congress members, shouting slogans 'Jai Sri Ram', 'Down down to Rama Virodhis'.

They also hit out at the Congress accusing them of questioning the existence of Ram and taking the matter to courts.

Kharge, taking strong objection to BJP's slogans, said slogans like 'Jai Basavanna,' 'Jai Bhim' and 'Jai Samvidhana' come from their mouths, while some Congress MLAs claimed that they too are 'Ram bhakts'.

Subsequently, when Ashok raised the issue of removal of Hanuman flag (Hanuma Dwaja) hoisted on a 108-ft tall flagpole, by the government authorities at Keragodu village in Mandya district, Congress' Mandya MLA Ravikumar Gowda (Ravi Ganiga) and Minister Cheluvarayaswamy, along with other party legislators objected to it.

Heated exchange followed as Cheluvarayaswamy accused the BJP of 'fueling fire' in Mandya and disrespecting the national flag by demanding that it be replaced by the saffron flag.

Sunil Kumar and Ashoka hit back accusing the Congress of opposing the hoisting of the national flag at Hubballi's Idgah grounds in the past. They also accused the Congress of disrespecting the national flag in the hurry to replace the 'Hanuma Dwaja' that was already there, with the tri-colour.

As Ashoka accused the Congress of 'hating' Lord Ram and Hanuman, Ravikumar Gowda chanted a 'shloka' in praise of Lord Ram and challenged the former to recite one.

Published 14 February 2024, 13:46 IST

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