In a bid to woo Lingayats and Vokkaligas, the two powerful dominant communities of Karnataka ahead of the assembly elections which are due in May, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday unveiled the statues of 12th-century social reformer and Lingayat sect founder Lord Basaveshwara and Bengaluru founder Kempe Gowda at Vidhana Soudha, the Karnataka seat of power. Shah also justified the decision of the BJP government in Karnataka led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to scrap the four percent reservation for Muslims in the 2B category asserting that there was no provision in the Constitution for affirmative action on the basis of religion. The four percent reservation has been re-apportioned equally to the Lingayats and Vokkaligas, leaving the Muslims to compete for the 10 percent reservation provided for Economically Weaker Sections of the general category, which is decided based on family income.
The senior BJP leader also inaugurated a martyrs’ memorial at Gorata village in Bidar, where on May 9, 1948, more than 200 people are said to have been massacred by the Razakars of Nizam as the Hyderabad rulers opposed the erstwhile princely state's unification with India. According to the Sundarlal Committee that inquired into the violence during the annexation of Hyderabad, at least 27,000 Muslims too were murdered by the Indian Army at the time. The report was declassified only in the year 2013. Undertaking a whirlwind tour from Bidar in the far north of Karnataka to Bengaluru down south, Shah inaugurated various projects in Bidar, Raichur, and Bengaluru, and appealed to the people to bless the BJP with an absolute majority. He said the party was committed to eradicating corruption and developing Karnataka.
“The statue of Jagadjyoti Basaveshwara here will send a message to the entire world that India is the mother of democracy. In the 12th Century AD, Basaveshwara had strengthened society by showing the courage to provide a common platform to people from the lowest strata to the highest echelons,” Shah said, unveiling Basaveshwara's and Kempe Gowda’s statues. Bengaluru, founded by Kempe Gowda, had assumed the shape of a global city, Shah said. Shah addressed the gathering from the podium at the grand steps of the imposing Vidhana Soudha, which was draped in colorful light and well-decorated. Sri Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji of Adichunchanagiri Math, a powerful seer of the Vokkaliga community, and Suthur Math pontiff Jagadguru Sri Shivaratri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji along with a strong representative of the Lingayat sect found a prominent presence on the podium at Vidhana Soudha.
Hailing the "double engine" BJP government at the Centre and the State, Shah noted that Bengaluru had become the number one destination for Foreign Direct Investment and ‘ease of doing business’. Karnataka was also the home of the largest number of startups and it also contributed significantly in aeronautics and space technology, he added. The Union Home Minister lauded the Karnataka government’s decision of scrapping the four percent reservation for Muslims under 2B Other Backward Classes (OBCs) category, saying the Constitution does not provide for a quota on religious lines. Earlier, addressing public meetings at Gorata village in Bidar district and Gabbur in Raichur district, he slammed the Congress for introducing the four percent reservation for Muslims for "its vote bank politics". Shah said that the Bommai-led BJP government had also tried to do away with the "injustice to the Scheduled Castes" by introducing a new internal reservation.
The four percent quota taken away from the Muslims was equally divided among the two dominant communities of the state: Vokkaligas in 2C reservation category and Veerashaiva-Lingayats in 2D reservation category. With this, the 2B category became redundant while the Vokkaligas' reservation went up from four percent to six percent and that of the Lingayats from five percent to seven percent. “The BJP never believes in appeasement,” Shah said, strongly defending the decision to take reservation away from the Muslims and increase the quota of the Vokkaligas and Veerashaiva Lingayats ahead of the Assembly Elections. "So, it decided to change the reservation." “The BJP abolished the four percent reservation given to the minorities and gave two percent to the Vokkaligas and two percent to the Lingayats,” Shah said. “The reservation for minorities is not Constitutionally valid. There is no provision in the Constitution to give reservations based on religion. The Congress government did it for its appeasement politics and gave reservation to the minorities,” he added.
Shah also hit out at the Congress, alleging that it never remembered those who fought and sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Hyderabad from the "brutal" Nizam rule. Addressing the people after inaugurating the Gorata Martyrs’ Memorial and the statue of the country's first Home Minister late Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Gorata village, Shah also slammed the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Telangana government for "hesitating" to celebrate Hyderabad Liberation Day. Hoisting a 103 ft high national flag at Gorata, he called it the "Jallianwala Bagh of South India". Recalling the horror of Gorata on May 9, 1948, the Union Minister said that 200 people were massacred by the "brutal" Nizam even though the country had become independent.
Shah said it was the most important day for an "emotional person" like him because on that day the ruthless army of the Nizam butchered about 200 people for allegedly hoisting a 2.5 ft tricolor. He added that today, he could proudly proclaim that he hoisted a 103 ft tricolor, which no one could ever reach. Shah recalled that eight years ago he had visited the place as the BJP national president and laid the foundation for the Gorata Martyr’s Memorial with the direction to the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha workers to build a memorial that would be remembered throughout the country for hundreds of years. As the announcement of election dates to the Karnataka Assembly has become imminent now, the top BJP leadership including Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and BJP national president J P Nadda have undertaken back-to-back visits to Karnataka where they have inaugurated a series of projects, laid the foundation stones of various development works and taken part in many public meetings.