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BJP to file defamation suit over Karnataka CM’s ‘extremist’ remark

While the BJP had raised objection to Siddaramaiah’s comment, the latter on Thursday reiterated his stand, saying RSS and Bajrang Dal members were “extremists”.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2018 23:50 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Siddaramaiah,BJP,RSS
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah during a press meet after a review meeting with senior police officers in Bengaluru.(Arijit Sen/HT Photo)

The Karnataka unit of the BJP is set to file a complaint of criminal defamation against chief minister Siddaramaiah who accused the saffron party and its parent organisation, the RSS, of “harbouring extremists” while addressing the press on Wednesday.

With all three parties in the state — the Congress, the BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) — beginning their pre-poll campaigns ahead of the assembly polls, set to be held in May, temperatures have soared in the southern state with a flurry of charges being traded by all sides.

Siddaramaiah’s remarks had come in the wake of calls from the BJP to ban the Popular Front of India (PFI), an Islamist organisation, after an NIA court charged five members of the organisation and its affiliate Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) under the anti-terror law in the murder of an RSS worker.

While the BJP had raised objection to Siddaramaiah’s comment, the latter on Thursday reiterated his stand, saying RSS and Bajrang Dal members were “extremists”. “We will take action against those who disturb communal harmony, be it PFI, SDPI or Bajrang Dal,” he said in Mysuru. “I called them Hindutva extremists because I, too, am a Hindu. But I have humanity and these people don’t.”

BJP’s S Suresh Kumar condemned the CM’s remarks. “Putting BJP and RSS on the same pedestal as PFI is objectionable. He called us extremist without proof. For this reason, we are going to file a criminal complaint against him on Friday,” he said.

Kumar said members of the PFI were to be tried under terror charges and, hence, there could be no comparison.

“We had asked for their activities to be banned, and instead the chief minister has made such irresponsible statements,” he said, adding that the comments made by the chief minister on Thursday would be added to the complaint as well.

BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje said the party would organise ‘Jail Bharo’ campaign to protest the CM’s remark. “Our appeal to Siddaramaiah is to arrest and put us in jail as we are all terrorists roaming on the streets,” she said, calling on the CM to tender “an unconditional apology”.

State home minister Ramalinga Reddy said the Congress was willing to face any complaint because there was enough proof to substantiate the chief minister’s statement.

“There have been many instances recently that have highlighted the BJP’s penchant for fear mongering,” he said.

MP Karandlaje is reported to have circulated fake news by tweeting a Honnavar taluk girl’s “self-inflicted injuries to escape a stalker” as the result of “jihadis (who) tried to rape and murder a girl”. The police later registered a case against one Ganesh Eshwar Naik under the POCSO Act.

Reddy said the BJP had made it openly known that it was set to go the extremist route.

Referring to a video purportedly showing BJP MP Pratap Simha saying party chief Amit Shah had asked state leaders to intensify agitations, Reddy said there was no denying which way the saffron party was headed.

“Their leaders Karanadlaje, Anantkumar Hegde and Simha have laid bare the BJP strategy to vitiate the atmosphere in the state ahead of the elections,” Reddy said.

First Published: Jan 11, 2018 23:50 IST