Dinesh Amin Mattu, former media advisor of previous Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, is among the five people booked for violating the Model Code of Conduct. The case was registered by the Flying Squad team from the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency for allegedly trying to stir religious sentiments and influence voters during a speech.
The case was booked against Dinesh Amin Mattu as well as social activists Mahendra Kumar, GN Nagaraj and Indudhar Honnapur for violating the Model Code of Conduct. A case has also been booked against Congress leader and Sahabalve president Amrith Shenoy for organising the ‘Sarvajanothsava’ convention, on ‘communal harmony’ at the Royal Garden Grounds near Kalsanka in Udupi on March 17.
During the interaction, which was broadcast live on Facebook as well, Dinesh claimed that there is politics within the Udupi Krishna Mutt. He asked the Pejawar seer Vishwesha Theertha to define a Hindu. “Don’t say you are for pro Hindus and support candidate of any one party. This is not just anti-state but anti-religion,” he said.
He also said that the development work by the Congress is not the reason for its failure but the "wrong perception" that Congress always supports Muslims.
“If Congress is pro Muslims, then tell us you are pro whom,” Mattu questioned the seer. "The RSS is aiming to form a Hindu nation...This organisation is anti-Constitution... We are not against Hindu religion," he said.
He further added that the coastal region's communal harmony is being affected. "No Hindu girl has given a complaint against a Muslim boy. What wrong have the Muslims of the coastal region done to Hindus? RSS will not answer these questions... Let them remove their mask and directly contest the elections...JD(S) leader HD Devegowda and HD Kumaraswamy are real Hindus as they believe and worship all gods. But why are people opposing them?" he asked.
Meanwhile, as per local media reports, Mahendra Kumar in his speech pointed out that the RSS has been more anti-Dalit than anti-Muslim. He also reportedly said, “People from backward classes are used as pawns by the Sangh Parivar. RSS provokes the youth from poor and backward communities to trigger unrest.”
The speeches attracted controversy in Udupi and a case was booked against Dinesh and four others for the remarks. Dinesh served as the media advisor to former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah until 2018.
Speaking to TNM, Dinesh denied allegations of violating the election code of conduct: “I have clearly said I will not speak on politics. I tried to clarify certain points using religion, especially Hindu religion. I challenged the RSS and even the Pejawar Mutt seer to define ‘Hindu’. When there are leaders who belong to different parties but who also belong to the Hindu religion, why is support extended to one particular party candidate using the ‘Hindu’ religion tag? Isn’t it anti-religion? This is the only thing I questioned. If you want to book election code of conduct violation, there are plenty (of such instances). Book cases against Ananth Kumar Hegde and Chakravarthi Sulibele and many others who are violating the code on a daily basis."
Dinesh's words were echoed by event organiser Amrith Shenoy who claimed that he had obtained permission to conduct the event and that there was no violation of the MCC.
“One thing I want to make clear is no person has vouched for any particular party. No person has asked not to vote for any political party. The speakers spoke only on thinking twice before voting and also voting for those who support peace and harmony,” he said.
But in the complaint filed by KV Nagaraj, officer of the Flying Squad Team, the speakers at the event violated the MCC, tried to stir religious sentiments and influence voters by provoking them to think before voting.
The cases have been registered at the Udupi Town police station under sections 153A, 295A and 125. The investigation is underway.
Story by Story Infinity (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP.)