This comes as permission was not granted for a virtual event for DK Shivakumar’s takeover as KPCC chief, whereas Amit Shah has already held virtual rallies.

D K Shivakumar walks through the vidhana soudha in bengaluruFile photo
Coronavirus Coronavirus Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 10:23
Written by  PTI

Congress in Karnataka on Wednesday slammed the BJP over denial of permission to an event for the formal takeover of D K Shivakumar as state party chief of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) with virtual participation of workers citing COVID-19 guidelines and accused it of adopting "double standards".

Congress leaders pointed out that BJP leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, had recently held virtual rallies in poll-bound Bihar and West Bengal.

The event for formal takeover as KPCC President was planned for June 14, after it was postponed twice in the past on May 31 and June 7, due to COVID-19 related restrictions in place.

The government denied permission for the June 14 event, citing COVID-19 related guidelines that are in place, aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.

The permission was sought to organise an event to mark official takeover at the party's headquarters in Bengaluru in the presence of around 150 senior leaders, and it would be telecast live for workers across the state.

Also, party workers at over 7,000 locations across the state were to take an oath and read the preamble of the Constitution.

Hitting out at the state BJP government for denying permission despite written assurance about following all precautionary measures and physical distancing norms, Shivakumar alleged politics behind the decision and said he would once again write to the CM seeking permission for the event.

"I had believed that Yediyurappa (CM) will not indulge in petty politics and will walk the talk… this is the event of Congress workers, no one can stop it. You (BJP) can make attempts to stop it, but I will hold it whenever you give permission. I will organise it abiding by the law," he said.

Questioning the rationale behind BJP holding virtual rallies in Bihar and West Bengal, Shivakumar asked, "is the law different for them? I shared my plans about the programme two months ago.... it was our idea to hold such a virtual event reaching the panchayats."

Shivakumar had on June 5 written to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, seeking permission for the event.

Replying to Shivakumar on Tuesday, a Revenue Department official in a letter pointing out that large public gatherings or congregations continue to remain prohibited, under the new set of guidelines issued by the Centre, said, "…hence the request cannot be considered."

Flaying the BJP dispensation, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said, Shivakumar had earlier spoken to Yediyurappa about the event, and he had given oral permission, but all of a sudden on Tuesday, a letter was sent denying permission, citing central orders.

"This is being done out of political malice," he said.

Seeking to know how permission was granted to Amit Shah to hold the virtual rally, he said, "This is a repressive conspiracy of BJP against Congress, I condemn it. We will see what can be done legally."

Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge accused the BJP government of behaving with "political vengeance" and said that the ruling party does not believe in democracy or in following democratic principles.

"On one side, BJP leaders are holding campaign meetings in West Bengal, but here for taking charge (of KPCC president) in the presence of 100-150 people in accordance with rules by maintaining physical distancing, they have denied permission," he said.

Denying permission to a small programme shows their 'prejudice' towards opposition parties, he added.

After remaining in virtual vacuum for nearly three months, the party high command on March 11 appointed the six-time MLA, known to be the Congress' chief troubleshooter in crisis situations, replacing Dinesh Gundu Rao as the KPCC chief.

Rao had quit the post in December after the party's dismal show, winning only two of the 15 seats in the bye-polls.

Shivakumar, who has vowed to build Congress as a cadre based party, has also planned to take a “non-political tour" across the state soon, aimed at highlighting issues faced by the people because of the COVID-19 situation.