The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday nominated Yashpal Suvarna – one of the most incendiary voices in the Karnataka hijab ban controversy – as its candidate for the Udupi constituency in the state Assembly elections.

Suvarna is the vice president of the Development Committee of Udupi Government PU Girls’ College, the flashpoint of protests by students after they were stopped from wearing hijab in classrooms last year. As the protests spread to other parts of the state, the BJP government banned students from wearing clothings that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.

During the protests, Suvarna had said that the six girl students who moved court against the government’s hijab ban order were “terrorists”, The Indian Express reported. On Tuesday, he told the newspaper that he still held the same view as those who do not abide by the law of the land are anti-nationals.

Suvarna’s family members have been members of the Hindutva ideological fountainhead, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, according to The Indian Express.

In his college days, Suvarna was a member of the RSS’ student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, before he joined Bajrang Dal, a Hindutva organisation. In 2005, he was named as one of those accused of stripping and parading a man and his son, who the Bajrang Dal alleged were transporting calves.

In the candidate list that BJP announced on Tuesday, the party dropped sitting MLA Raghpathi Bhat to give the ticket to Suvarna. The BJP has not named any Muslims in its list of 189 candidates announced on Tuesday.

The 224-member Karnataka Assembly will go to polls on May 10. The votes will be counted on May 13.

Karnataka hijab ban

The controversy was sparked off in January last year after a group of girl students in the Udupi college were stopped from attending classes as they were dressed in hijab.

The students staged a protest that spread across the the state. On February 5, the Karnataka government passed an order banning clothings that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.

Six girl students from the Udupi college challenged the order in the Karnataka High Court, but the ban was upheld. In its judgement, the High Court held that wearing hijab was not essential to Islam.

The High Court order was challenged in the Supreme Court, where a two-judge bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Hemant Gupta gave a split verdict on the matter in October. The judges said that the matter will be placed before the chief justice for his directions on the future course of action. The Supreme Court has not yet formed a bench to hear the matter.