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To Tide Over Riots and Rumours, Siddaramaiah Invokes Basava for Peace

Siddaramaiah's message, published in leading newspapers, comes in the wake of riots, in two taluks in the coastal Karnataka region, that were allegedly triggered by fake news – some of which were allegedly circulated by local BJP MPs and other leaders.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:December 15, 2017, 7:14 PM IST
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To Tide Over Riots and Rumours, Siddaramaiah Invokes Basava for Peace
Calling upon people to go by Basavanna’s principles of diversity and secularism, Siddaramaiah’s message was that while the government will take action against every provocation to divide, spew hatred and stir violence among people, the Government is also keeping track of the spread of false news that attempts to polarise and provoke.
Bengaluru: Days after communal riots were reported from different parts of Karnataka, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah took to mass media to blame the violence on ‘communal elements’ backed by ‘larger organisations’ – in an obvious reference to the Opposition BJP, blaming them for spreading communal tension.

Interestingly, it was the 13th century saint Basavanna’s name that the CM invoked to usher in social harmony – the saint who is guru to the Lingayat community that is seen as a traditional BJP votebank. This is also the community that has been asking to be identified as a separate religion, instead of being identified as Hindus.

Calling upon people to go by Basavanna’s principles of diversity and secularism, Siddaramaiah’s message was that while the government will take action against every provocation to divide, spew hatred and stir violence among people, the Government is also keeping track of the spread of false news that attempts to polarise and provoke.

His message, published in leading newspapers, comes in the wake of riots, in two taluks in the coastal Karnataka region, that were allegedly triggered by fake news – some of which were allegedly circulated by local BJP MPs and other leaders.

While these riots happened early this week, last week saw some tension in Mysore after one MP tried to breach police barricades during a Hanuma Jayanthi celebration. There were also some incidents of vandalism near the Datta Peeta shrine in Chikamagaluru during a festival – all of these are communally sensitive areas.

It was in this context that Siddaramaiah published his message.

“Those individuals who do not respect the law of the land, who go against the Constitutional aspirations, and try to divide society on the lines of caste and religion, will be dealt with sternly. However it is the ideological opposition from the people that will cause their ultimate failing,” the CM said, while asking people to not succumb to such provocative messages.

He further said BJP had become desperate as they were sure of losing in the next elections (in 2018).

Meanwhile, Uttar Kannada MP and Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde taunted the CM with a facebook post saying that the government was misusing its police force for “dadagiri in uniform” and added, “we have decided to intensify our protest....Let them face our ire!”

The war of words continued with Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy hitting back, saying, “Anyone who spreads fear and disrupts peace in society is a terrorist, whichever religion he may belong to…. You are unable to digest the fact that this government has done much good, that’s why you want to create trouble.”

With six months to go for elections, the two parties have been caught in a bitter war of words on an almost daily basis, especially over issues of religion.

The State government is also trying to process the demand for a separate religion status from groups within the Lingayat community – though the BJP has opposed this, saying it’s an attempt to break the Hindu community.

Siddaramaiah, however, said that he would be recommending to the Minority Commission for a separate religion status.

“The representation has come from many groups within the community. We will forward this to the Commission to decide on,” he told reporters, on a tour in north Karnataka.

Religion and caste, then, will perhaps set the tone for Karnataka Assembly elections as well.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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