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BJP Played Kannada Tunes in Karnataka, Congress and JDS Say It's Drama for Votes

Commenting on their new found love for Kannada, a state BJP leader said, “Initially we thought that it was a politically motivated agitation restricted only to social media. Later we realized that it is indeed a serious issue and a lot of people are backing it."

D P Satish | CNN-News18dp_satish

Updated:May 11, 2018, 6:37 PM IST
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BJP Played Kannada Tunes in Karnataka, Congress and JDS Say It's Drama for Votes
BJP National President Amit Shah pays a tribute to Kuvempu Smarak in Thirthahalli taluk of Shimoga district during his two-day Karnataka visit on Monday. (PTI photo)
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Bengaluru: BJP national president Amit Shah toured Mumbai–Karnataka region in one of his several rounds of the poll-bound state. But the latest visit was more Kannada-centric. Shah was busy visiting the memorials of Kannada icons in the region deftly playing the Kannada card. He even tweeted in Kannada quoting a famous poem of one of the all-time greats of Kannada literature, D R Bendre who was from Dharwad.

The local BJP strongman and former Chief Minister, Jagadish Shettar also displayed his love for Kannada and its literature by tweeting a few lines from Kumaravyasa’s ‘Mahabharatha’. Gadugina Naranappa known as Kumaravyasa wrote his own version of ‘Mahabharatha’ also known as ‘Karnata Bharatha Kathamanjari’ a few centuries ago.

Shah also visited Kumaravyasa’s birthplace, D R Bendre’s house, freedom fighters Sangolli Rayanna and Kittur Rani Chennamma memorials in the last two days.

The saffron party’s Kannada-centric campaign has now led to a furious debate in both literary and political circles of Karnataka. Some argue that the same party stayed away from backing Kannada issues saying that Kannada was being used by activists and the ruling Congress to divide the country on language lines.

When public protests erupted over Centre’s Hindi imposition in last July and August, the BJP had taken a strong objection to it. Some of its leaders and social media handlers had even launched an attack on those who were demanding the removal of Hindi signboards from Bengaluru Metro.




The BJP had also opposed Siddaramaiah government’s Kannada flag for the state. However, as we near the Assembly elections, BJP seems to have be realizing that the primacy of Kannada in Karnataka is a potential election issue and ignoring or opposing it can ultimately be counterproductive.

According to new age, tech-savvy Kannada activists, the same BJP youth wing and social media activists who called them “Ganji Giraki” or “scums” for taking up Kannada-related issues, have now gone silent over the last two months.





Arun Javagal, one of the leaders of Banavasi Balaga, an organization of young Kannada activists from IT and other fields said, “We ask people to vote for the parties which fight for Kannada and Karnataka. We have no agenda. We support no political parties. The BJP’s U-turn proves that they have also realized that there is a strong backing for our movement.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with all top BJP leaders is busy playing the Kannada card in the election campaigns while PM Modi even managed to utter a few words in Kannada and also paid tributes to Kannada icons in his speeches.

Amit Shah took a helicopter ride to Kuppalli, the birthplace of Kannada poet laureate the late K V Puttappa known as Kuvepmu during his visit to Shimoga two weeks ago. Even party election in-charge, ministers Piyul Goel and Prakash Javadekar have also started tweeting in Kannada.

Commenting on their new found love for Kannada, a state BJP leader said, “Initially we thought that it was a politically motivated agitation restricted only to social media. Later we realized that it is indeed a serious issue and a lot of people are backing it. The Siddaramaiah government has already hijacked it playing it to the Kannada sentiments. In a crucial election like this, we don’t want to be seen as an anti-Kannada party”.

Siddaramaiah has dismissed BJP’s Kannada outreach as an election gimmick. He said that the entire state was aware of BJP and RSS’ disdain for regional languages, cultures and diversity.

“No one will believe them. They are good at fooling people but they have been exposed this time. They opposed the Kannada flag. Did not they?” the chief minister asked.

Meanwhile, the JDS, a Karnataka-based party, which had stayed away from Kannada movements has also joined the debate. JDS state chief H D Kumaraswamy has attacked both the Congress and BJP for using Kannada for the votes. “Both are national parties and have no respect for Kannada or Karnataka. After elections, they forget Kannada and go back to the same old Hindi politics. Kannadigas should be careful about these Delhi people”, he said.

Another prominent Kannada activist, Vasanth Shetty said that their fight for language equality and primacy of Kannada in Karnataka will continue irrespective of election results. “Our movement is apolitical. We will continue to fight in a democratic manner till our goal is achieved,” he said.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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