A few weeks ago, ‘Headbush’, a Kannada movie was released on the big screens across Karnataka. Set in the 1970s Bengaluru, it is a story about the entry of gangsters into politics. It brought the meteoric rise of feared gangster Jayaraj under the patronage of then chief minister D Devaraj Urs, the power struggle with his rivals, R Gundurao and FM Khan, alive on silver screen. It also led to a controversy over the depiction of a religious function ‘Karaga’, the ancient festival of Bengaluru.
The right-wing BJP supporters went berserk accusing the Congress of promoting and co-opting rowdies. They even went after state Congress president DK Shivakumar describing him as a product of dreaded gangster Kotwal Ramachandra in the 1980s.
Little did they know that the same thing would happen to them a month later.
The state BJP leadership is red-faced after its top leaders shared the stage with a dreaded criminal, ‘Silent’ Sunil, last week.
Sunil, known as ‘silent’ Sunil in the rowdy and police circles, is facing various criminal charges including murder, extortion and kidnapping. The police had raided his house on November 23, but he escaped.
Four days later, he was seen with Bengaluru BJP MPs Tejasvi Surya, PC Mohan and MLA Uday Garudachar at a blood donation camp in the city. According to police sources, they had gone there to question him, after finding him with top BJP leaders, they came back.
Some say he left with Uday Garudachar in his car after the function.
Two days later, all hell broke loose after media reported the incident.
‘Silent’ Sunil spoke to this reporter over telephone confirming that he has decided to contest in the forthcoming Assembly elections from Chamarajpet in the city. The seat is currently held by Congress MLA and former minister Zameer Ahmed Khan.
“I am contesting in the coming assembly elections. I can’t say for sure that I will contest on the BJP ticket. That will be decided soon,” Sunil said.
He has also said he is not currently facing any fresh criminal charges.
The main opposition Congress, interestingly led by DK Shivakumar, whom the BJP calls a product of 1980s rowdy culture of Bengaluru, took on the ruling party demanding answers about ‘silent’ Sunil sharing stage with them.
“BJP’s true colours have been exposed. They are openly hobnobbing with known criminals. It is like a holy Ganga river for the criminals. Once they join the BJP, they will be declared pure,” DK Shivakumar said.
The top leadership of BJP tried hard to defend the incident.
MLA Uday Garudachar said Sunil is a friend, but he did not know that he is also called ‘Silent’ Sunil, who is a wanted gangster in the city.
Interestingly, the same MLA’s father BN Garudachar, a veteran IPS officer, was appointed as Police Commissioner of Bengaluru to wage a war on gangsters in the late 1970s. A nonagenarian Garudachar is still alive.
Home minister Araga Jnanendra said he had no idea about the incident. While Union minister Prahlad Joshi said the party will minutely study the background of anyone willing to join the party and criminals are not welcome.
A senior BJP MLA from Bengaluru, Higher education, IT and BT minister Dr CN Ashwathnarayan went a step further defending ‘Silent’ Sunil. He said it is unfair to deny the chance to someone who wants to return to mainstream on the grounds that he has once committed some crimes.
Bengaluru City Police Commissioner CH Pratap Reddy is apparently upset over the incident and has ordered the police to investigate the matter.
According to insiders ‘Silent’ Sunil is playing a clever game. He is hoping that the association with the BJP will help him to come out of the cases he is facing. He is also hoping that a scared sitting Congress MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan will try to clinch a deal with him.
Gangsters joining politics or getting elected is not new thing in Karnataka politics. They have been a permanent fixture since 1980s.
Two city MLAs, Muniratna and Gopalaiah, who allegedly had ties with rowdies in the past are now Cabinet ministers in the BJP government. Earlier, Congress had RV Devaraj who had alleged ties with gangsters as an MLA from Chickpet in the city. Ravikanth Patil, a notorious criminal from Bijapur district, was an MLA from Indi in the past.
Many gangsters including Jayaraj had political ambitions and unsuccessfully tried their luck in the electoral arena in the past.
But the loud association with ‘silent’ Sunil is likely to haunt the BJP in the days to come.
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