The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has stepped in to contain the damage caused by the Pramod Muthalik episode which saw the Sri Ram Sene leader dropped hours after he was inducted into the BJP.
The RSS’ North Karnataka chief Mangesh Bende hosted Muthalik and BJP state president Prahlad Joshi at the Keshav Kunj office of the organisation here on Monday morning. They were closeted for an hour.
Muthalik, who made the headlines in 2009 after he and 40 Sene activists attacked young men and women in a Mangalore pub, alleging they were violating traditional Indian values.
Muthalik has filed his nomination as an Independent in the Bangalore South and Dharwad constituencies.
Sources said Bende tried to convince Muthalik to merge his campaign with Joshi’s and refrain from visiting Bangalore South where he has filed his nomination against sitting BJP MP Ananth Kumar who is already locked in a tough battle against Congress candidate Nandan Nilekani.
There is no doubt that every vote Muthalik polls, will go from the kitty of Ananth Kumar and Joshi.
Conflicting signals emerged at the end of the meeting. Muthalik said he had just come to “seek the blessings of the RSS”. He told mediapersons that he would campaign hard and that “the question of going back does not arise. I am contesting to win”.
BJP activists and RSS sources, on the other hand, claimed that Muthalik had agreed to back down and not campaign against the BJP. It’s too late to withdraw nominations.
A close confidant of Bende told HT that the RSS stepped in under pressure from its own cadres.
A section of the rank and file of the organisation is not just unhappy with the way Muthalik was treated but also with the return of former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu into the BJP.
“They divided the party and the parivar. They are involved in corruption cases. What did Muthalik do?” said an RSS activist who preferred anonymity.