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Ashoka urges the BJP workers to start marching towards the district commissioner’s office. “If police says we will arrest you, ask them for a warrant. Yeddyurappa is here don't worry.” The former deputy CM says the Karnataka government has failed to maintain law and order. “Gauri Lankesh was in support of your (Siddaramaiah) ideology even then you didn’t give her protection,” he said.
Former Karnataka deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka, in what can only be seen as a direct warning to policemen, says that the BJP is sure to come to power after the next assembly election so the police should not cross the boundary. “According to survey, BJP will come to power. I'm telling the police Congress is here only for four months. Don't listen to Congress and go out of law boundaries (sic),” he said at the protest site.
Karnataka BJP chief BS Yedyurappa, when asked about the law and order concerns caused by the BJP rally, shifted the blame directly to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and said law and order has completely collapsed under him in the state. “The CM should take moral responsibility and resign. He has no right to continue,” he said and demanded a fair investigation into the death of the RSS workers.
CNN-News18’s Nagarjun Dwarkanath reporting from the protest site says that while the BJP keeps promising a massive bike rally would start soon, there is not a single bike here till now. BJP Kar Yuva Morcha president and MP Pratap Simha, Leader of Opposition in Karnataka P Jagadish Shettar and MP Prahalad Joshi have arrived at the protest.
Sunil Kumar, a BJP MLA from Karkala told ETV that come what may, “we will assemble at least 25,000 protesters.” He said they would not stop till all three demands are met – banning of SDPI and PFI, resignation of district in charge minister Ramzan Rai and proper inquiry by a central agency into deaths of RSS workers.
The BJP has organised the protest to protest the political killings of its workers, RSS men and VHP workers in the coastal belt of Karnataka. The party has alleged that 14 of its workers have been killed in the last two years. It has demanded an NIA probe into the cases. A visual of the banner showing the party workers that were killed in the last couple of years.
Rapid Action Force teams have been deployed at Mangaluru's Nehru Maidan, the venue of the BJP protest. Over five thousand security personnel have been deployed all over the city, including Jyoti circle, the place from where the rally is expected to start. Security has also been beefed in neighbouring districts.
The BJP worker said that Yedyurappa will address party workers at 11am after which the bike rally would start. He criticized the police for the security arrangements, saying the authorities are inconveniencing the public. “The government has made it an emergency-like situation. Why are they trying to stop a peaceful protest?” he asked.
The BJP is expected to start its procession around 11am from Jyoti circle in the heart of Mangaluru. Speaking to CNN-News18’s Nagarjun Dwarkanath, a BJP worker said that the rally will go ahead as planned and the police can’t do anything to stop it. He said a lot of workers have already gathered here and more will join from other districts by the 11am start time.
The rally had started on Tuesday from Bengaluru, where clashes were witnessed as police clamped down the bike rally. Over 200 bike riders who successfully reached Freedom Park in the city, despite severe nakabandi on all roads leading to it, had gone ahead with the bike rally. The police dragged out the activists and seized the bikes. Over 500 activists including former Home Minister R Ashoka, Shobha Karandlaje and Mysuru MP and BJP Yuva morcha president Pratap Simha were taken into preventive custody by the police.
Former Karnataka home minister R Ashoka said that there were 175 cases against over 1600 workers of PFI and SDPI in 2013 when the Congress came to power. "The first thing Siddaramaiah did was to withdraw all these cases in 2015. This gave them a moral boost and from 2015, the organisation's role is clear in at least eight murders of pro-Hindu activists. We demand that all these cases be handed over to NIA,” said Ashoka. “The clamp down clearly shows that the State government is terrified of the BJP's support and organisation in the state.”
Sources said the rally is aimed at upping the victim-projection-quotient of the party. Traditionally, the coastal Karnataka region with many Hindu-majority areas, has been a big vote bank for the BJP. But they had lost ground in these regions in the 2013 Assembly elections after allegations of illegal mining. The BJP is trying to regain lost ground in the region as nearly 30 seats here will be crucial if they want to wrest power from the Congress in the upcoming polls that are in April-May 2018.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has called the rally an attempt at divisive politics. “Instead of doing Mangaluru Chalo, let them do a ‘Delhi Chalo’ demanding waiver of farmers' loan," he said. The Congress attributes the BJP's rally plan to the recent visit of Party president Amit Shah to the state.
The BJP says that Mangaluru Chalo rally is a protest against political killings of Hindus in the coastal belt of Karnataka, especially the killing of 12 men belonging to the party, its ideological mentor RSS and the right-wing VHP. Claiming the men were killed over the last few years by members of organisations like Popular front of India and Karnataka Forum for Dignity, the BJP has sought a central probe into the deaths and a ban on these outfits.
Police have allowed the BJP to hold a public meeting for three hours, from 11 am to 2 pm. A press release from the deputy commissioner said that prohibitory orders are in force to ensure that no rally from outside the district enters Dakshina Kannada. Permission was denied keeping in view the sensitive nature of the district and to maintain peace, the cops said.
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