Dubbing the Congress government “anti-Hindu” and “anti-majority”, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs raised objection in the Karnataka Assembly today to the ban on Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia entering Bengaluru, leading to the adjournment of the House repeatedly.
BJP leader R Ashoka raised the issue as the House met for the day and questioned the government’s intention behind the action and called it an attempt to “suppress” the majority, leading to a heated argument between BJP and Congress MLAs.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah intervened to say government would not allow anything that disturbs peace in society. This further angered BJP members.
The Speaker said he would give permission to raise the issue during Zero Hour and Question Hour should be allowed to function smoothly, to which members agreed.
Police had yesterday banned Togadia from entering the city from February 5 to 11 on the grounds that his “provocative and inflammatory” speeches would have “grave” consequences and there was likelihood of breach of peace.
Asoka again raised the issue after Question Hour.
He said VHP’s programme here on Feb 8 to celebrate its 50th anniversary was expected to be attended by around 50,000 people. It would be attended by Seers of various Mutts and Togadia, “but Congress government has banned his entry.”
Questioning the reason behind the ban when such programmes with his attendance had been held peacefully in other parts of the state, he demanded they take it back and “government should not function against sentiments of the majority community.”
Opposition leader Jagadish Shettar who joined the chorus over the issue, sought a response from the government.
Minister R V Deshpande said Home Minister George would respond once he was back from the Legislative Council, but BJP MLAs objected and sought an answer from the Chief Minister, and entered the well, shouting slogans, terming government’s action dictatorial, “Emergency-like” and reflecting signs of “Hitlerism”.
Siddaramaiah said there should be peace in society and if anyone tried to disturb it, it would not be allowed. “We don’t differentiate between majority and minority,” he said.
As BJP MLAs began shouting slogans against government from the well, the Speaker adjourned the House for half an hour.
When the House met at 1.45 pm, BJP MLAs again rushed to the well shouting slogans against the government, holding posters reading “anti Hindu”. The Speaker again adjourned the House till 2.30 pm.
When it resumed post lunch, George defended the police act, saying government would take all necessary steps to maintain peace and normalcy in the state. He also said in many parts of the country, including Karnataka, 19 criminal cases had been registered against Togadia for inflammatory statements.
As BJP continued with the protest following this statement, the Speaker adjourned the House for 10 minutes.
When the House resumed, BJP MLAs again entered the well, shouting slogans and calling government “dictatorial”. The Speaker’s repeated request for normal functioning went in vain and he finally adjourned the House till tomorrow.