‘Won’t give Muslims tickets as they don’t believe in us’: Karnataka BJP leader
Senior BJP leader in Karnataka KS Eshwarappa has stoked controversy after he said in that Muslims would never be allowed to contest on his party’s ticket as the community does not support it.
Eshwarappa, who is an MLA from Shivamogga and was a former deputy chief minister, made the comment in Koppal on Monday in response to a statement Congress leader and former MLA Iqbal Ansari has made.
Ansari had criticised the fact that the Congress, BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) had not fielded many Muslim candidates for the Lok Sabha election 2019. Among the three parties, Rizwan Arshad of the Congress is only Muslim candidate, who is contesting from the Bengaluru Central constituency.
“Having come to the realisation that the Congress treats them as vote banks, the Kurubas and Muslims have even rejected tickets from the party,” Eshwarappa said after he addressed members of the Kuruba community, to which he belongs. “Ansari must understand that they have only made [Muslims] a vote bank and it will be good that he realises that.”
“We will not give Muslims ticket in Karnataka because they have not believed in us. If they believe us and vote for us then we will give them a ticket,” Eshwarappa said.
He added that even if Ansari wishes to get a BJP ticket, he would have to join the party, “sweep the floor of our office and work for the party for 10 years,” before it could even consider this.
Eshwarappa said while speaking to the Hindustan Times that he stood by his statements.
“It is true that Muslims don’t support us,” he said. “However, my comments were not specifically directed at Ansari. Anybody who joins the party will have to be ready to clean the office and work their way up from there,” he said.
Responding to the comments, senior Congress leader R Roshan Baig called Eshwarappa an insignificant leader who was not worthy of comment.
“I do not see any need to respond to the comments of riff-raff like Eshwarappa. Clearly, he is unaware that Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was a Union minister in the Modi government,” he said.
This is not the first time that Eshwarappa, a member of the Kuruba backward caste, has made a controversial statement against Muslims. He had alleged in January last year that Muslims who are with the Congress “are killers”, while those linked with the Bharatiya Janata Party are “good Muslims”.
“Muslims who have killed 22 RSS and BJP activists are with the Congress and those who are good Muslims are with the BJP. Muslims who are killers are with the Congress,” the former deputy chief minister of Karnataka had said.
The BJP will field its candidates in all the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka, which will go to polls in two phases, 14 constituencies each, on April 18 and April 23. The votes will be counted on May 23.