Cong targets Speaker Kageri's RSS background

Newly elected speaker of Karnataka Legislative Assembly, Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri being greeted by CM BS Yediyurappa and Former CM Siddaramaiah during the Assembly Session at Vidhan Soudha, in Bengaluru on Wednesday. B H Shivakumar

The Opposition Congress launched an ideological attack on the BJP’s Hindutva plank, soon after Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, a Swayamsevak, occupied the Speaker’s chair on Wednesday. 

By doing so, the Congress wanted Kageri to know that he could no longer align with the Sangh, the BJP’s ideological parent. 

“You come from a background of struggle. Now that you are on that chair, you are no longer with the ABVP, RSS and BJP. You are expected to be non-partisan,” Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah said, while hailing Kageri’s election. “I’m confident you’ll uphold and protect the honour of this House.” 

Kageri’s predecessor K R Ramesh Kumar was more direct in his critique of the Hindutva ideology. He drew a parallel between RSS’ founding fathers (K B Hedgewar and M S Golwalkar) and Constitution architect B R Ambedkar. “Hedgewar and Golwalkar, both Brahmins, believed in an Akhanda Bharata based on Hindutva principles, whereas Ambedkar envisioned an Akhanda Bharata based on equality,” he said.

“The makers of our Constitution, including Ambedkar, wanted inequality to go. But it hasn’t. The background you (Kageri) come from endorses the caste system and Manusmriti. This is totally contradictory to Ambedkar. You are stuck in this dilemma. You must come out of this and form a new personality for yourself. Our loyalty must be only towards the Constitution,” Kumar said. 

BJP members defended Kageri against this ideological attack. “There’s a misconception that the RSS is meant only for Brahmins,” former BJP minister KS Eshwarappa, a Kuruba, said.

“My brother was reprimanded for attending the RSS shakha (camp) after my father was told that Brahmins will use him for their gains. My brother left home and didn’t return for three days. Worried, my father went looking for him. He was found in the house of Narasimhamurthy Iyengar, a priest, eating food with other children. This is Hindutva. It’s a way of life, not confined to any one section or religion,” he said. 

On his part, Kageri minced no words in acknowledging his ideological background. “My father was a Swayamsevak, so was I since childhood. Yes, Hindutva is our ideology and the Supreme Court has said it’s a way of life,” he said, assuring the Assembly the he will be non-partisan.

“I will be on the side of the new MLAs,” he said.

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