Following three murders in Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada region in the last one month, clashes have engulfed the coastal region and RSS functionary Prabhakar Bhat Kalladka has emerged at the forefront as a controversial figure. Kalladka rose through the ranks of the RSS and gained prominence on account of allegations that he is a key player in spreading communal tensions in the region. He has also led rallies and protests after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, The Financial Express reported.
Kalladka's rise from a behind-the-scenes strongman to the forefront, in what seems like the BJP's attempt to win the region in the upcoming elections in 2018, fans speculations that the Sangh Parivar is trying to reinforce the Hindu identity to regain the region.
The attempts started soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed his government at the Centre. RSS leaders campaigned for the BJP in the name of Hindutva and nation building in the region.
The Indian Express quoted a Congress MLA of Vasanth Bangera as saying, "There is a chief commander for Mangalore who is above the collector, the superintendent of police or anybody — Dr Kalladka. The control of the whole district is with Prabhakar Bhat Kalladka. I am telling you the truth about what is happening in my district."
Dakshina Kannada is the only region where the saffron party and its outfits are vocal about the beheading of Indian soldiers by Pakistan, Chinese intrusions and the Indian Mujahideen. Kalladka is also accused of making provocative statements and supporting people involved in moral policing, according to the report.
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has also said that there would be peace in the coastal region if the BJP and the other Sangh Parivar outfits did not create trouble, The Hindu reported. "It is their provocative speeches that are disturbing peace in the coastal area. To cover up their misdeeds, they are pointing fingers at Congress leaders Ramanath Rai and UT Khader for the communal disturbance," he said.
As this Scroll article pointed out, "With elections approaching, it is likely that things will only get worse. The RSS' agenda is to polarise the community and sell the idea of a Congress that only cares about Muslims without bothering about Hindu sentiments." This explains the sudden importance that is being given to Kalladka.
So much so, that BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa has warned that the whole of Karnataka will burn if Kalladka is arrested, a News18 report stated. This came after Karnataka Minister for Environment and Forests, B Ramanath Rai directed Dakshina Kannada SP to book Kalladka for the murder of an RSS activist on 4 July. It is only under Kalladka's tutelage that fringe outfits like Sri Rama Sene and the Hindu Jagaran Vedike are thriving.
The Bengaluru police even registered a suo motu case against Sri Rama Sene's chief Pramod Muthalik for hate speech. Muthalik and his supporters staged a protest, attacking Pejawar Mutt seer for hosting an iftar party at a temple complex, The News Minute reported. The chief reportedly said that there will be bloodshed if iftar parties are held in temples.
Meanwhile the police has been arresting people in connection with stone pelting during the funeral procession of the RSS activist. Among the arrested are some members of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, which is believed to be fanning tensions in the region, The Hindu reported. The outfit's men even detained a Muslim youth and a Hindu girl. When the couple was released by the police, Kalladka issued a warning. "I would like to remind the police that it is we who will protect their wives and children after they retire," he had said.
Prior to Modi's win, the BJP suffered a humiliating defeat in the region in the 2013 Assembly polls because it was the first time in almost 20 years that BJP candidates did not have the support of the Sangh Parivar. However, things turned around after Modi was elected the prime minister. "There is a sense of belief among the Sangh workers that even if Modi does not overtly talk about Hindutva issues, he will not betray Hindutva in any way," a senior Sangh member was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Corroborating the member's statement, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said that if you peel off Modi's exterior, it is all Hindutva. The Huffington Post quoted him as saying, "we [BJP] articulated this Hindutva — of uniting the Hindus and dividing the minorities."
Needless to say, the BJP government at the Centre has given an impetus to the Sangh outfits to continue their atrocities in Karnataka and try to polarise the voters ahead of the Assembly polls.
Updated Date: Jul 18, 2017 15:10 PM