A day after Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah linked the BJP, Bajrang Dal and VHP to terrorism, he appears to have taken a step back, and clarifed that he was referring to ‘Hinduva terrorism’.
The Chief Minister had earlier said, “They are themselves like terrorists in a way. BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal also have terrorists within," making an unprecedented attack on his political rivals. He made the comment in response to a question on the action taken against Popular Front of India (PFI) for the alleged murder of Hindu activist Rudresh in 2016.
However, on Thursday while speaking in Mysuru, the Chief Minister clarified, “I had not called RSS and BJP activists ‘terrorists’. I had only stated that they were Hindu hardliners. They are advocating aggressive Hindutva. They are Hindutva extremists. We will take stringent action against anyone who indulges in terror activities, whether they are from PFI, SDPI, RSS or Bajrang Dal,” Siddaramaiah said as per The New Indian Express.
The clarification came after the CM’s comments sparked a controversy with BJP and Bajrang Dal leaders condemning his attempts to draw a link between their organisations and terrorism.
BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje demanded Congress leaders Dinesh Gundu Rao and Siddaramaiah should put them in jail if they are terrorists. "Our appeal to Mr. Siddaramaiah and Mr. Dinesh Gundurao is to arrest and put us in jail as we are all terrorists roaming the streets. According to our Chief Minister, we are dangerous people. We need to be in jail, and hence this jail bharo programme," she said.
BJP has decided to hold a ‘Jail Bharo’ protest in the state in protest of Siddaramaiah’s statements.
The CM’s statement came in the backdrop of comments by BJP National President Amit Shah criticising Siddaramaiah for an ‘anti-Hindu’ policy. It also followed the news of a college student in Chikkamagaluru committing suicide after a group of men harassed her for posting a picture that appeared to show her like a burkha-wearing Muslim. Anil, a BJP Yuva Morcha worker and Santhosh, affiliated to the Bajrang Dal, has been arrested on charges of abetting suicide.