Chief of right-wing outfit Sri Rama Sene, Pramod Muthalik on Monday, January 23 said he has decided to contest the upcoming Assembly polls in Karnataka from the Karkala constituency in Udupi district to fight against corruption and for the cause of Hindutva. "Under pressure from karyakartas, I decided to contest as an independent candidate from the Karkala Assembly segment. Already, I have travelled across the constituency seven or eight times, and everyone is of the opinion that I should contest from here as there has been injustice to Hindus and rampant corruption," Muthalik said.
Speaking to reporters, he said he is contesting so that he can work honestly for the cause of Hindutva and against corruption. "My contest will be with an aim to give the Hindus justice and respect," he added. In November last year, Muthalik had said that 25 Hinduwadis, including him, would contest the 2023 Assembly polls as independent candidates to protect Hindus, while alleging that the BJP which came to power with their support has failed to protect them and Hindutva.
Pramod Muthalik, hailing from Hukkeri in North Karnataka, founded the Sri Rama Sene, a Hindu nationalist organisation, in 2006 along with a group of Bajrang Dal activists from Mangaluru. However, a few months after the organisation was established, differences arose between Muthalik and one of his associates, Praveen Walke, which resulted in Walke and his associates leaving the organisation. Despite this, the Sri Rama Sene remained active, and in 2008, members of the organisation, including a close associate of Muthalik, Nagraj Jambagi, were accused of involvement in a bomb blast at a court in Hubballi, which was aimed at targeting suspected activists of the Students' Islamic Movement of India.
Muthalik has a long history of involvement in Hindu nationalist organisations, including the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. He is also known for his divisive statements and actions, promoting communalism and inciting violence against religious minorities. The Sri Rama Sene, under Muthalik's leadership, gained national and international attention in 2009 for a violent attack on a pub in Mangaluru, where Sri Rama Sene members physically assaulted young men and women who were inside, claiming that the women were violating traditional values by being inside a pub. Muthalik continues to be active in the northern part of the state and is known for his strong stance on Hindutva ideology.
Karkala in Udupi district is currently being represented by V Sunil Kumar (BJP), who is now Minister for Energy, Kannada and Culture in the Basavaraj Bommai-led Cabinet. He has stood for polls thrice from the constituency and won in 2004, 2013 and 2018. Karkala was earlier a Congress bastion, with former Chief Minister and ex-Union Minister M Veerappa Moily having won from there six times from 1972-1994. After him, H Gopala Bhandary of the party had twice represented the seat, winning the 1999 and 2008 polls.
With PTI inputs