Vokkaliga groups to rally against DKS’ arrest

A file photo of Congress leaders from Rajajinagar in Benglauru staging protest against arrest of former minister D K Shivakumar, in Bengaluru. DH Photo

In what will be a show of strength, Vokkaliga groups will hit the streets with the backing of the Congress, in support of former minister D K Shivakumar on Wednesday. 

A massive rally-cum-protest has been planned from National College grounds in Basavanagudi till Freedom Park. 

The Congress is looking to make the most of the consolidation of the Vokkaliga sentiment in Shivakumar’s favour. The Vokkaligas are one of the two most influential communities in Karnataka, with the other being Lingayats, who are believed to be traditionally the BJP’s core support base.  

Shivakumar is currently in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate in connection with alleged money laundering. But, the Congress has accused the Modi administration of using the agency to settle political scored by targeting Shivakumar. 

“Various organisations as well as Congress leaders will stage a protest. We have asked our party workers to make sure the protest is peaceful,” former Congress minister Ramalinga Reddy said. “ED, I-T department, CBI, Election Commission, RBI... they were autonomous before the BJP came to power. Now, they are used to stomp on opposition parties,” he charged.

In a tweet, Shivakumar also requested protesters to be peaceful. “I would like to reiterate that I have done nothing wrong & am a target of vendetta politics. With the support and blessings that I am receiving from all of you, and my belief in god and our judiciary, I have full faith that I will emerge victorious both legally and politically,” Shivakumar said. 

The JD(S), which is largely perceived as a Vokkaliga party, has extended support to the protest, and is looking to further consolidate the community by also highlighting how the BJP toppled H D Kumaraswamy’s government. 

But Shivakumar has, over time, earned his own space in the community and is known as Sathnur Huli (the tiger of Sathnur, Shivakumar’s erstwhile Assembly segment). Late Monday evening, the Adichunchunagiri Mutt pontiff Nirmalananda Swami visited Shivakumar’s family and consoled them. 

Wary of efforts to project the ruling BJP as ‘anti-Vokkaliga’, Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan and Revenue Minister R Ashoka, the BJP’s Vokkaliga faces, decried bringing caste into the narrative. “The ED has arrested Shivakumar in connection with illegal financial transactions. It’s shameful that the Congress is giving this a casteist colour. The BJP and the Centre have nothing to do with this. The investigation agencies are functioning constitutionally,” Ashoka said.

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