Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik is back. Out of political calculations until two days ago, he is threatening to derail the campaigns of BJP’s state president Prahlad Joshi and five-time party MP from Bangalore South, Ananth Kumar.
Joshi, fighting a tough battle in Hubli-Dharwad, had sought the return of Muthalik to consolidate the pro-Hindutva vote base. Sympathy for Muthalik has been pouring on social media and Hindutva blogs after BJP ejected him within hours of inducting him on Sunday.
The video of an angry Hindutva activist hurling a shoe at Joshi on Monday has gone viral. Muthalik is also making headlines.
BJP is worried by the support Muthalik has generated from Hindutva groups. “Hindu leaders from across the country are expressing their solidarity. The BJP has not insulted me. It has insulted all Hindus,” Muthalik said while announcing that he will file his nomination against Joshi. He also vowed to campaign against Ananth Kumar.
If the Muthalik episode weren’t enough, Joshi got involved in a paid news scandal on Monday. Leading Kannada daily Prajaavani carried an all-editions story alleging that Joshi’s campaign managers had tried to bribe its reporter in Hubli with a wristwatch and branded clothes. The paper alleged that most reporters in Hubli-Dharwad had accepted the bribe.
Making most of the situation, Muthalik breathed fire at a press conference in Dharwad on Tuesday. “By expelling me, the BJP is supporting the women who were drinking and dancing in a pub. There will be a resurgence of real Hindutva from Dharwad. The BJP is trying to appease Muslims.”
Muthalik’s political career suffered after he was sacked as Bajrang Dal’s South India convener in 2005. He resurfaced with the Mangalore pub attack in 2009 but the BJP government then cracked down on his outfit and arrested most of its leaders. In May 2010, he was caught by a hidden camera asking for money to start a riot.