Vokkaliga organisations protest against DK Shivakumar’s arrest
Though protests had been held before, this was the first where DK Shivakumar’s arrest was painted as an attack on the Vokkaliga community, which is dominant in the southern Old Mysuru region of the stateUpdated: Jul 01, 2020 00:26 IST
A week after former minister DK Shivakumar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, a large protest was held in Bengaluru on Wednesday by Vokkaliga organisations condemning the move.
Called by a forum of Vokkaliga organisations, the protest saw participants arrive from within the city and from the immediate outskirts, including Ramanagaram, Shivakumar’s home district. A police official estimated that around 30,000 people attended the protest.
Though protests had been held before, this was the first where Shivakumar’s arrest was painted as an attack on the Vokkaliga community, which is dominant in the southern Old Mysuru region of the state. While statements had been made to this effect by various leaders, it hadn’t been organised around an event like it was on Wednesday.
Speaking at the protest, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president, said it was condemnable that the central government was using strong-arm tactics to silence opponents. “Those who are opposed to the central government are subjected to repeatedly harassed and pressured,” he said.
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Gundu Rao said that it was clear that Shivakumar was punished for playing host to Congress MLAs from Gujarat in 2017 ahead of a Rajya Sabha election in that state. “The I-T officials raided the resort where they were staying because the BJP was angry that the MLAs were being safeguarded there,” he said.
Former minister Krishna Byregowda of the Congress said the move smacked of cowardice. “This is not something that the courageous would do. If they have the courage let them come and fight it out in the political battlefield. Instead, unable to come and fight it out among the people they are showing their cowardice,” he said. “The CBI, I-T department, ED are the lap dogs of the central government,” he added.
However, members of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda’s family were conspicuous by their absence, considering their stature in the Vokkaliga community. Indeed, the organisers had attempted to broaden the scope of the meeting to draw a huge crowd by making it not just about Shivakumar’s arrest, but also about the suicide of Café Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha, who had cited pressure from the Income Tax Department as one of the reasons for his extreme step.
Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said that he had not been invited to the event, even though his face was plastered across the posters. “We informed our party workers to extend support but I could not go because I wasn’t invited. I wish I had been,” he said.
State tourism minister and BJP leader CT Ravi, who is also a Vokkaliga leader, said that everybody was equal under the law. “The Vokkaliga associations should decide who it wants as a role model. This community is one that has always stood by the upright. They should introspect about how correct what they are doing now is,” he said.