DKS ‘grant’ ignites divine row

DK Shivakumar

The construction of a 114-foot statue of Jesus Christ at Herobele village on the outskirts of Bengaluru, for which Congress leader D K Shivakumar has provided 10 acres of land, has courted controversy.

According to Revenue Minister R Ashoka, the land in question is government’s gomal (grazing) land. 

Shivakumar, on the occasion of Christmas this week, handed over the title of the 10-acre land to a private trust that is constructing Christ’s statue near Kapalibetta in Harobele village. Harobele is located in Shivakumar’s Kanakapura constituency. The village is predominantly Christian and the proposed statue will be 101 feet tall standing on a 13-foot pedestal. Shivakumar purchased the land from his own funds. 

“This is Survey No. 283 comprising 231.35 acres of land. This is government gomal land. It’s not Shivakumar’s property. I don’t know how he can purchase and give it to someone,” Ashoka said.

“For thousands of years, it has been known as Kapalibetta. It can’t be given away in charity. Only the government can do that. I have sought a report from the Ramanagaram deputy commissioner on this,” he added. 

In his defence, Shivakumar said the 10-acre land was granted at his behest when the Congress-JD(S) coalition was in power. “They wanted to construct the statue two years ago. I stopped it saying it was government land and could run into trouble in the future. So, I got 10 acres granted by the H D Kumaraswamy-led government. I paid the government for the land,” he said. 

‘Appeasement’

BJP leaders attacked Shivakumar over the statue, calling it “appeasement”.

Firebrand Uttara Kannada MP Anantkumar Hegde hinted that Shivakumar, whom he referred to as “Tihar Returned”, was doing this to impress AICC president Sonia Gandhi, the “Italian woman”, and become the next Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president. “It won’t be a surprise if more slaves within the Congress compete with each other to do appeasement politics,” he said. 

Shivakumar said he believed in “equality and religious tolerance”. It was his duty, he said, to respect the faith of his constituents who belong to different
religions. “I have helped build hundreds of temples.
I have even given away my own land for a government educational institution in Kanakapura.”

‘Jesus born in Vatican’

Jesus Christ was born in the Vatican, Rural Development & Panchayat Raj Minister K S Eshwarappa said in a tweet, while criticising the construction of the Christ statue in Harobele village.

“To impress their leader, those in the Congress who opposed the construction of a temple dedicated to Lord Rama born in our holy country, are going to build from their own money a statue of Jesus who was born in the Vatican,” Eshwarappa tweeted.

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