BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje has a history of pitting communities against each other

The Union Minister of State is contesting from Bengaluru North and has now tried to turn Kannadigas against Tamilians by saying that Tamil people plant bombs in Bengaluru’s cafes.
BJP's Shobha Karandlaje
BJP's Shobha Karandlaje Image: Bhuvan Malik
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Shobha Karandlaje has a track record of making false allegations and using polarisation as a political tool. The BJP leader from Karnataka, who is currently a Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare in the Modi government has done it again. Just days after her candidacy was announced from Bengaluru North, Shobha has alleged Tamil people plant bombs in Bengaluru’s cafes – referring to the recent bomb blast in the city’s Rameswaram cafe. She later retracted the statement following severe backlash but the incident highlights how she has been reckless in pitting communities against each other. 

Shobha has pitted the natives in coastal Karnataka against Malayalis who reside in the region several times in the past. The Member of Parliament (MP) from Udupi-Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituency, in February 2020, called for scrutiny at the Kerala and Karnataka borders. In February 2020, Kerala had reported cases of COVID-19. “These people are not just coming for tours. A thorough investigation is needed to know why their numbers have increased suddenly,” she said and added that Malayalis travelling to Karnataka should furnish reasons for their travels. 

In January 2020, Shobha had also alleged that people from Kerala were violently protesting in Mangaluru against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Later, she was also booked by the Kerala police for evoking religious animosity as she claimed that Hindu families in Kuttippuram, Malappuram district, Kerala, who supported CAA were being denied drinking water. 

In November 2023, following the suicide of a farmer in Kuttanad region of Kerala, Shobha accused the Pinarayi Vijayan’s government of not having utilised the Union government’s funds dedicated for the welfare of farmers. She also alleged that the Kerala government was corrupt and isn’t bothered about the state’s farmers. 

But Shobha’s list of propaganda is long. In 2018, she had written to the then Union minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh alleging that 23 Hindu activists were killed by ‘jihadis’ in Karnataka. According to her statement, 23 people who were connected to the BJP and its affiliate organisations were allegedly murdered by “jihadis.”  A ground report by also exposed how one of the men named in the list by Shobha was in fact alive, while a few others were killed in unrelated incidents.

She had repeatedly claimed that Paresh Mesta, an eighteen-year-old man who was named in the list, was tortured and killed by a communal mob. The BJP had claimed that before he was drowned, he had then been burnt with hot oil. It may be noted that Paresh’s death and the BJP MP’s statement had led to communal tension in Karnataka. However, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in 2022, concluded that Paresh’s death was only due to drowning and said that there is no evidence to prove his murder. 

5 years after BJP claimed Paresh Mesta was tortured and killed, CBI says not a murder 

Recently, BJP cadres initiated a ‘Go back Shobha’ campaign on social media and also urged the party’s national president JP Nadda against nominating Shobha from the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituency. Shobha has now been moved to Bengaluru North constituency and former minister Kota Srinivas Poojary will contest for the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru seat.

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