Several Congress leaders, including former minister Tanveer Sait, have accused BJP MP Prathap Simha of communalising an issue of encroachment for political mileage.

A screenshot of the Nanjangud temple being demolished and Siddaramaiah on the right
news politics Sunday, September 12, 2021 - 20:13

BJP MP Prathap Simha’s tweet questioning the demolition of a temple in Mysuru’s Nanjangud, in turn, gave rise to the question of why the MP was trying to communalise the demolition, which was reportedly carried out as per the Supreme Court's orders. However, while on one hand many Congress leaders tried to point out to Simha that it was his party that was in power at the state in the Union government, on the other hand, former Karnataka Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah seems to endorse Simha’s views. Taking to Twitter, Siddaramaiah called the demolition insensitive.

“The destruction of an ancient temple in Nanjangud is a reprehensible act. This is a religious matter and before making such a decision @BJP4Karnataka should have held a dialogue with the locals. Despite the court order, the district administration had to think about the impact it would have on the district before it was implemented. Those who pretend to be the protectors of Hinduism did not think of Hindutva before such action?” questioned Siddaramaiah. 

The Congress leader also urged Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to order an impartial inquiry into who is responsible for the demolition. Siddaramaiah added that the state government should now take the residents into confidence and identify another location and rebuild the temple.

However, several Congress leaders, including former minister Tanveer Sait, have accused Simha of communalising an issue of encroachment for political mileage. Siddaramaiah’s tweets have attracted criticism on why he chose to question the demolition that was carried out as per the court’s order. 

For Siddaramaiah, raking up this issue could help him achieve political goals. The first one is to protect his vote bank in his hometown of Mysuru where his son, Dr Yathindra, is also an MLA. 

Another intent is to ‘expose’ the BJP, says a source who worked closely with Siddaramaiah. “His aim was also to expose the so-called custodians of Hindutva. Tomorrow, if a religious place belonging to any other religion is demolished, he will question that. Today if he does not raise his voice against the temple demolition, then he will be accused of minority appeasement,” said the source. “Can a public figure like Siddaramaiah stay quiet on an emotional public issue like this one? There are so many illegal structures in Bengaluru, how many of them have been demolished like this?” the source added. 

Former media advisor of Siddaramaiah, Dinesh Amin Mattu, defended the leader’s statement and added that Siddaramaiah spoke like a responsible political leader. Speaking to TNM, Mattu said, “All Siddaramaiah said was that the locals had to be consulted and convinced. They could have been assured of an alternate site and the state could have built a bigger temple there. Instead, they just demolished the temple overnight. Apart from hurting sentiments of the people, it could lead to law and order problems also.” 

Mattu added that in the past as well, in many places, local authorities have brought down religious structures amicably. “They (district administration) could have built another temple, moved the deity and then brought down the illegal structure. While building the Mangalore port, many religious structures had to be demolished but there was no controversy,” he added. 

Meanwhile, pro-Hindu organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Hindu Jagarana Vedike staged a protest in Mysuru against the administration, calling them 'anti-Hindu.' The authorities, on the other hand, have defended their decision citing the SC orders, which instructed the demolition of several illegal structures, including many religious buildings. They have also said that the temple is not an ancient structure, as is being claimed, but just 12 years old. It does not come under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) either, the administration said. 

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