Bengaluru: The ruling Congress in Karnataka seems to be wary of the BJP’s ‘methods’ in electioneering, with party leaders repeatedly warning workers to watch out for “external elements” in the run up to the polls in the state.
With Assembly elections less than three months away, the warning to their cadre came right from the top.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told party workers at a strategy meeting of party office-bearers, “There is no election in any other state at the time that Karnataka goes to polls. So BJP will bring in RSS workers from different parts of the country and dump them here to work for their party, keep a watch on their activities.”
He further said that an election is like a war. “We are the Pandavas, who are walking on the right path while the BJP people are like the Kauravas, taking the wrong path,” he told the party workers, adding that booth-level committees must be especially wary of attempts by the opposition to tamper with any process.
The party seems to be jittery about possible attempts to tamper with the election process too.
On Wednesday, when the CM was addressing the annual meeting of all senior officers of the state police, he again talked to officers about sharpening intelligence skills at the level of every police station – particularly in sensitive areas.
Pulling up officers for lapses in intelligence that could have led to communal tension in the coastal regions, Siddaramaiah told the officers to go ahead and file suo motu cases against those who spread rumours on social media.
“We have already booked cases against BJP MPs like Pratap Simha, Ananth Kumar Hegde and Shoba Karandlaje for their provocative speeches. But we need to keep greater control on ground-level intelligence gathering on communal elements,” he told the officers.
He told them to even go ahead with ‘gadipaar’ orders under the Goondas Act against habitual offenders (keeping goonda elements out of the borders of the state).
The BJP, in response, dismissed Siddaramaiah’s Mahabharat analogy. State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa, at a rally in rural Bengaluru, said, “Those who don’t know how to visit temples are comparing themselves to Pandavas and teaching us about Hindutva.”
His reference was to the fact that the CM had, two months back, visited the Dharmasthala temple after having eaten non-vegetarian food – something that is shunned by the priestly class.
BJP spokesperson S Prakash wondered if Siddaramaiah's strategy was to "bring police raj before elections to use it to their advantage".
Now that elections around the corner, the target seems to be the Congress' adversaries, he told News18.
"What does he want to do in Karnataka? He says he is giving instructions on policing. He is asking for 'gadipaar'. Is he targeting BJP and Sangh workers? Does he want to use police force to neutralise the strong opponents," he asked.
As for the allegations that BJP will try to bring in 'external elements into Karnataka,' he said it was the BJP that has formally given a complaint to the Election Commission that the Congress has brought in fake voters in border areas of the State and added them into the voters' rolls.
"We have identified thousands of outsiders in the border areas who are not real voters of Karnataka. This data has been given to the Election Commission also, to be weeded out," Prakash said.