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BJP woos Karnataka with Anantkumar Hegde’s inclusion in Modi ministry

Anantkumar Hegde was purportedly caught on camera assaulting doctors at a hospital in Sirsi earlier this year. He had accused the hospital of negligence.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2017 16:57 IST
Reshuffle of Modi cabinet,Cabinet reshuffle,Narendra Modi
President Ram Nath Kovind, vice president M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose with some of the new ministers after the swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday. (PTI)

The inclusion of Karnataka MP Anantkumar Hegde, a Brahman leader, is a clear indication of the BJP’s efforts to woo the state ahead of the assembly polls next year.

Though the name of Hegde was not among those being discussed in the state ahead of the ministry reshuffle, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reposed his faith on the five-time parliamentarian known as for his vitriolic speeches.

Hegde was purportedly caught on camera assaulting doctors at the Totagarara Seva Samiti Hospital in Sirsi earlier this year. He had accused the hospital of negligence.

However, in choosing Hegde, the BJP is trying to beat chief minister Siddaramaiah in his own game after he came out in support for separate religious status for the Lingayat community.

Hegde, who became an MP from Uttara Kannada for the first time in 1996, has also consistently championed communal causes, although according to his affidavit filed before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he has no criminal cases against him.

In 2016, Hegde had stoked controversy by calling Islam a “ticking time bomb”. He had also accused TV news channels of aiding terrorists by inviting Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid to speak on talk shows.

In the selection, the BJP has chosen an issue where its stance is not complicated.

Recently, the party held protests rallies condemning the murder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Sharath Madiwala, who hailed from the communally sensitive Dakshina Kannada district. BJP President Amit Shah too had laid stress on the issue when he visited the state in August.

A senior leader, who did not wish to be named, said the selection was a surprise, especially considering the fact that he was not among the names that were being speculated about.

Even during Shah’s visit he had steered clear of the Lingayat issue, which can potentially affect the party’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa.

First Published: Sep 03, 2017 16:06 IST