Party tries to tap into resentment against August 11 violence
The political fallout from DJ Halli’s violence and his investigation has left Congress, which has long politically dominated the region, deeply divided. Sensing this, the ruling Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party is trying to improve its position in the assembly constituencies of Pulakeshinagar, Sarvagnanagar and Shivajinagar – neighboring segments with large Muslim and Dalit pockets.
The alleged role of the region’s former mayor and congressman R. Sampath Raj in inciting violence against Pulakeshinagar MP R. Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy (Congress) following a post disparaging social media against Islam by the lawmaker’s nephew, the intense factionalism in Congress revealed.
“I am a congressman who has been attacked, but our party chairman supported Sampath Raj on this issue. [The former Chief Minister] Siddaramaiah and [the former Minister] BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan supports me in the party, ”said Mr. Murthy The Hindu.
It comes after the chairman of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, DK Shivakumar, recently defended Mr Raj by alleging that the BJP was targeting congressional leaders and that there was no evidence of its role in the violence.
Police say Mr Raj was a contender for the party ticket to Pulakeshinagar in the 2018 Assembly elections, but Mr Murthy’s entry into the party scuttled his plans. He switched to CV Raman Nagar but was defeated.
Mr. Raj is a long time associate of Mr. Shivakumar while Mr. Murthy is close to Mr. Siddaramaiah. “The factionalism between the camps led by Mr. Shivakumar and Mr. Siddaramaiah is a sad reality,” admitted a senior congressman.
Sensing an opportunity, the BJP has been courting Mr Murthy since the day the violence erupted in DJ Halli. His new proximity to several BJP leaders raised red flags in Congress. A senior BJP minister said they wanted to make room for a Dalit leader.
“With the party chairman at bat for the person who attacked his house and who is also a contender for the party ticket from the same constituency, what is the guarantee that Mr. Murthy will get the party ticket for the ballots of the? Assembled in 2023? It will soon become untenable for him to continue in this party, ”he declared.
Mr. Murthy said, however, “My family has been a Congressional family and my constituency has always supported Congress.”
BJP sources said that although Mr Murthy did not join them, they saw an opportunity to establish a foothold not only in Pulakeshinagar, but also in the neighboring constituencies of Sarvagnanagar and Shivajinagar. “These constituencies are dominated by Muslims and Dalits, among other religious minorities. The reverse polarization of Hindu votes is the only way to win these seats. We won Shivajinagar in 1999 and 2004. The way part of the minority community rampaged down at DJ Halli on August 11 angered others in the area, ”said a BJP strategist.
BJP and govt. story
“The narrative of ‘terrorism’ that the BJP and the state government have built around the violence – entrusting the NIA with investigating suspected terrorist links to the violence, calling for banning the SDPI and PFI, and Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya calling the city a “hub of terror” – seems to aim to demonize the minority community, “said a top congressional leader.
The BJP, led by its national secretary general (organization) BL Santhosh, has never missed an opportunity to point out that Mr. Murthy is a Dalit and that Congress has failed to protect him.