Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa has said that the Bharatiya Janata Party will not give a ticket to any Muslim candidate for the bye-polls to the Belagavi Lok Sabha seat, PTI reported on Monday.

Eshwarappa, who holds the rural development portfolio in the Karnartaka Cabinet, said that Belagavi was a centre of Hindutva and fielding a Muslim candidate from there was out of question. The seat fell vacant after Union minister Suresh Angadi’s death in September. The Election Commission is yet to announce the date of the bye-poll.

“Whether we give [the ticket] to Kurubas or Lingayats or Vokkaligas or Brahmins, we will not give to a Muslim,” the minister said. “We will give tickets to Hindutva proponents, I don’t know whether we will give it to followers of Sangolli Rayanna, Kittur Chennamma [freedom fighters] or Shankaracharya.”

The Karnataka minister claimed that the BJP was the only party with a democratic system. “In BJP there is no question of Kuruba, Lingayat, Vokkaliga or Brahmin community, we will all sit together and discuss, this is the system, a democratic way,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency.

Also read: Muslims won’t get BJP tickets in Karnataka because they don’t trust us, claims senior party leader

Angadi died on September 23, 12 days after he tested positive for the coronavirus. He served as the minister of state for railways and also held several positions in the BJP.

Eshwarappa had made a similar comment ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. He had said that the BJP will not give tickets to Muslim candidates in the state as the community did not trust them. “Congress uses you [the Muslims] only as a vote bank and doesn’t give you tickets,” he had said at an event in Koppal in Karnataka. “We won’t give Muslims tickets because you don’t believe in us. Believe us and we’ll give you tickets and other things.”