Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Monday claimed that a video that the Bharatiya Janata Party had shared of him discussing caste politics with other Congress leaders was “fake news”. In the video, Siddaramaiah was heard saying that the Lingayats were not as much with Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa as they used to be, and the Vokkaligas no longer fully backed former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.

In the video, an unknown person can be saying: “Lingayats are a bit disturbed with the BJP”. In response, a person suspected to be Siddaramaiah said: “See, it isn’t like it was before for Yediyurappa with the Lingayats. Even the Vokkaligas and Kumaraswamy.”

Sharing the video, the BJP tweeted: “India is progressing forward. Will the master of ‘Appeasement Politics’ ever grow beyond caste?”

This provoked a reaction from Siddaramaiah, who claimed that the BJP was spreading fake news. “Casual private discussion at my residence is being misinterpreted by [Karnataka BJP] leaders to derive sadistic pleasures,” Siddaramaiah said in a tweet. “Illumination of truth shall always prevail over the darkness of lies. This will be my Deepavali message to my political rivals.”

Siddaramaiah said he was inspired by figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Kannada poet Kuvempu and 12th-century philosopher Basavanna in his “commitment to social justice”. “I believe dismantling caste structure is possible only when their ideas are incorporated,” he added. “All programs during my tenure as CM of Karnataka is based on these foundations.”

The former chief minister said that people who claim that he subscribes to caste-based politics should introspect whether they believe in the principles of Gandhi, Ambedkar, Basavanna or Kuvempu. “The statement in the video is, in fact, my expression of happiness that people see beyond the caste to decide their representatives,” he claimed. “This is a sign of social progress [and] matured electorate. What is wrong if I say that people are being secular?”

Claiming that the BJP was morally bankrupt, Siddaramaiah said the “targeted fake news” will “further strengthen my commitment to social justice & my conviction to work for people”.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.