Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah addressed a press conference on Saturday morning in Mysuru, Karnataka, on the last day of his two-day trip to the region ahead of the elections in the state.
Shah who was accompanied by Karnataka BJP leaders fielded a series of questions ranging from the contentious Lingayat issue to the sidelining of Dalits by the Karnataka government under Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
“Congress is playing politics over Lingayat issue,” Shah said.
“If Siddaramaiah was serious about this (recognising Lingayat as a separate religion), why didn’t he do it immediately after forming the government? When Manmohan Singh was the PM, why did he reject a similar proposal in 2013?” he asked.
He accused the Congress government of conspiracy against BJP’s CM candidate BS Yeddyurappa, who is a Lingayat.
“This is a conspiracy to divide Lingayat votes so that Yeddyurappa doesn’t win,” he said.
When asked what his party’s stand was on the Lingayat issue, Shah said that BJP will address it only after the end of the elections.
The BJP president also took the opportunity to accuse the Siddaramaiah government and Congress party for ignoring the concerns of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
He stated that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to introduce a Constitutional amendment to give constitutional status to OBC Commission, the Bill was derailed in the Rajya Sabha by the Congress.
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha since we have a majority there. But in Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Digvijay Singh got it blocked by raising an issue with its composition.
“Since 1955, the OBCs have been trying to get constitutional status. But Congress did nothing during the long periods of their reign,” Shah said asking why Siddaramaiah, an OBC leader, failed to make his party agree to the Bill.
“You keep saying ‘I am an OBC leader and my government is doing a lot for OBC’, then why did you fail to convince your party why they stalled the Bill?” Shah questioned Siddarmaiah.
The BJP chief also highlighted the schemes launched by PM Modi for the welfare of the poor, the backward communities, Dalits and tribals. He said that the benefits of the schemes were not reaching the people of the state because the Siddarmaiah government is acting like a “speed breaker”.
He claimed that the Congress neglected the legacy of Babasaheb BR Ambedkar while the BJP government at the Centre did a lot for the Dalits.
Shah also countered Siddaramaiah’s retort in which the Karnataka CM had said that the Rs 2,19,506 crore rupees allocated to the state under the Finance Commission was the “right of the people”.
“Indeed the allocated money is right of the people, but why didn’t Congress give this right?” asked Shah, adding, “Will Siddaramaiah come out and say why this right was not given to the people earlier?”
Shah also rejected the notion that the BJP was facing competition in the southern state confidently claiming that the people of Karnataka will elect Yeddyurappa for a five-year term and make the state the ‘pravesh dwar’ of south India for the BJP.
“The Janata Dal Secular is not in a position to form a government and Karnataka is the ‘ATM’ for the corrupt Congress party,” he said commenting on the third party in contention.
Shah arrived in Mysuru on Friday where he held party meetings and addressed supporters in the region including a ST (Scheduled Tribe) convention in Chamarajanagar.
He also visited the home of a slain party worker in Kyathamaranahalli area of the city and assured the families of all 24 victims that the culprits would not be spared at any cost once the BJP came to power.
Earlier on Friday, Shah took the blessings of Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji of Sri Suttur Math in Mysuru and also met the Mysuru royal, Maharaja Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar.