'The BJP cannot antagonise Hindu outfits'

Vicky Nanjappa | February 12, 2009 15:42 IST

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Karnataka is in the midst of a cultural crisis with attacks on churches, assault on women at a pub and very recently the 'abduction' of a girl from a bus for speaking with a man from another community.

All these incidents have taken place at Mangalore and importantly during the Bharatiya Janata Party regime which formed its first government in south India.

Views are divided on this issue. The BJP sees it as a political conspiracy while the opposition maintains that Hindu outfits are taking advantage of the fact that the BJP is in power.

We spoke to a cross section of society to understand what exactly the problem was and why  such incidents were on the rise in Mangalore in particular.

Opposition leaders blame the government for its complete failure to act against the perpetrators and say the police force following the orders of Home Minister V S Acharya and not cracking down on such acts.

M C Nanaiah, a Janata Dal-Secular member of Legislative Council, says that the situation has never been this bad in Karnataka. "It is only after the BJP came to power that such goonda outfits are taking advantage. These criminal elements want to monopolise Hindu culture and the Karnataka government is unable to act. I feel that they are directly supporting such outfits. The home minister in particular only seems to be issuing public statements. In several statements he said that the Goonda Act would be invoked, but I don't see anything of that sort happening," the Kodagu MLC said.

Nanaiah expects nothing from the BJP at this point. "They cannot do without these goonda outfits considering the fact that elections are coming up. They need their services and hence will not do anything to antagonise these outfits," he said.

Vikram Hegde, a senior advocate from Mangalore, feels that too much is being made out of all this. "The communal divide in Mangalore is as old as its history and such incidents have always been taking place. I don't think it is because of the BJP that such incidents have started taking place. There has always been trouble against fashion shows, cow slaughter and other cultural issues. It is thanks to the attack on churches recently that Mangalore has jumped into the spotlight. After this, every other incident in Mangalore is being highlighted. One should understand that Mangalore is a small town and most people know each other. Hence small incidents are bound to get a lot of attention and ultimately highlighted."

Hegde further states that the media spotlight has not helped at all, "Communal feelings have hardened and tolerance levels are lower now. This only means that such incidents will continue to take place in the future."

Speaking about the role of the police, Hegde says that the police department always acts at the behest of the government. "They are usually with the party in power and in the bargain it is obvious that they work under pressure.Had it been the Congress in power, the police would acted according to the wishes of that party."

"But the BJP is clearly irritated. The chief minister and the home minister have spared no effort to proclaim that it is a clear political conspiracy," he added

Dr V S Acharya even goes up to the extent of saying that there is a need for a media ombudsman. This suggestion has come in for a lot of flak. However, the home minister asks,"if the media is right then why are you afraid of having an ombudsman?"

Dr Acharya makes an interesting point in his blog, 'Communists+Left Leaning Media= Mangalore chaos' he says.
Sources within the BJP camp too feel that the entire issue is politically motivated. The BJP says that Mangalore is being targeted since it is a BJP bastion.



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