The Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday said it will file a criminal defamation case against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for accusing the party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of “harbouring extremists”, The Hindu reported. The BJP said its activists and leaders across the state would voluntarily go to jails from Friday in protest against the chief minister’s comments.
“We appeal to Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr Dinesh Gundu Rao [working president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee] to arrest and put us in jail as they think we are all terrorists,” BJP State General Secretary Shobha Karandlaje said at a press conference in Bengaluru on Thursday. “According to them, we need to be in jail, and hence, we are launching ‘jail bharo’ programme.”
Siddaramaiah made the remarks on Wednesday after the BJP called on the state government to ban the Popular Front of India after a National Investigation Agency court charged five members of the organisation and its affiliate – the Social Democratic Party of India – with the murder of an RSS worker, the Hindustan Times reported.
“They are themselves like terrorists in a way,” Siddaramiah had said. “The BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal also have terrorists within.”
The chief minister later clarified that he was referring to Hindutva hardliners. “We will take action against those who disturb communal harmony, be it PFI, SDPI or the Bajrang Dal,” Siddaramaiah said in Mysuru on Thursday. “I called them Hindutva extremists because I, too, am a Hindu. But I have humanity, and these people do not.”
Karnataka Home Affairs Minister Ramalinga Reddy said the Congress was willing to face any complaint as the party can substantiate the chief minister’s statement, the Hindustan Times reported. “There have been many instances recently that have highlighted the BJP’s penchant for fear mongering,” he added.
BJP National President Amit Shah on Wednesday accused the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka of being “anti-Hindu” and indulging in vote bank politics. He made the remarks during a rally in Holalkere town in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district.
Assembly elections will be held in Karnataka later in 2018.