Indira Canteen and tale of dangerous idlis: 143 RSS sevaks injured as idli-pelting Congress mob goes on rampage

In an attack that flummoxed security experts, political analysts, the police, and chefs, 143 RSS swayamsevaks suffered bleeding injuries – 61 of them serious – after Congress workers hurled idlis at them from a newly opened Indira Canteen in Bengaluru on Thursday. The culinary coup by Karnataka's ruling party shook the nation, much like a Richter 8.5 earthquake.

The Karnataka government, which runs the canteen, was quick to order a high-level investigation to find how the soft and serene idlis could inflict such grievous injuries on humans. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said: "What? Idlis? Are you mad? How could idlis maim and cripple people? It's a conspiracy by the abominable RSS in league with the abominable media."

A furious Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "Of course! It's a plot by the Congress...err...BJP."

The police, meanwhile, seized samples of the offending idlis and sent them for a chemical analysis.

Congress leaders, led by vice-president Rahul Gandhi, seen discussing idli attack on RSS. PTI

Congress leaders, led by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, seen discussing idli tactics. PTI

The RSS workers were attacked when they descended on the Indira Gandhi canteen menacingly, like an invading army, and waved black flags. No sooner had the saffron-robed agitators arrived than the idlis flew out of the canteen, faster than the Indian Army's Agni ballistic missiles.

The RSS men collapsed like electric poles in Bengaluru rains. It was not immediately known what they were protesting against. A swayamsevak began to read out a statement to explain the protest but fell to the ground as an idli rocket hit his forehead.

The injured men were rushed to hospitals where doctors were bewildered over the grave nature of injuries. Of the 143 injured, 26 suffered skull fractures and 35 had their ribs broken. A doctor said it was "a medical mystery rivalled only by the intrigues of the Zika virus."

The Kashmir angle

Meanwhile, an army delegation is arriving from Srinagar to investigate if idlis could be deployed to combat stones pelted by separatists. And Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while publicly condemning the "vicious attack", secretly asked CPM cadres to find if idlis could fare better than hammers and sickles in annihilating the RSS in his state.

Among the wounded in the Bengaluru idli mayhem was Bhagyavathi Siddlaguntla, the 18-year-old chief political editor of the Go-Public channel, who was covering the RSS demonstration. She suffered a scratch on her cheek when a flying idli apparently grazed her face, but that was enough for her to call it a diabolical, pre-meditated attack on the press.

Refusing to calm down despite efforts by her cameraman to pacify her, she yelled: "OMG! What a thing to happen, man! I got a scratch but I got exclusive shots also! Wow!" Asked what the RSS was protesting and how idlis could be so catastrophic, she said she didn't care.

The police confirmed later that the chemical investigation had been completed but refused to disclose details.

The inside story

A reliable source – whom I call Deep Throat – revealed what caused the RSS protest and what made idlis so nearly lethal.

To begin at the beginning, Deep Throat said, state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa had summoned senior party leaders on Wednesday night to discuss the attempts of the Congress to exploit Indira Canteens to mop up votes.

Deep Throat had overheard the BJP chief say: "With roots in Tamil Nadu, the idli epitomises Tamil arrogance and an intrusion into the reign of our own ragi mudde (a ball made of ragi millets). When Tamil King Rajendra Chola-II ruled parts of what's now Karnataka, he thrust idlis on us in the year 1058 AD. The idli was the humble pie we had to eat from his hands. Okay, eat them at home, but how can you make and supply them in a government canteen?"

"Siddaramaiah and idlis must be exposed. Both are a blot on Kannada culture and an affront to Kannada pride. Luckily for BJP, Rahul inaugurated the canteen. With one hand, he put an idli in his mouth and with the other he put a foot in it, when he said it was an Amma Canteen. That shoots up our vote share by 4.8 percent, but the electoral threat to us remains. We must..."

Senior BJP leader KS Eshwarappa cut him short, demanding archival evidence to prove the idli's Tamil provenance. Fuming, Yeddyurappa threatened to send a video of Eshwarappa's defiance to BJP president Amit Shah, if he persisted with interruptions.

'Expose idli-gate'

Deep Throat said that Yeddyurappa then announced: "It's our unanimous decision to agitate against the idli-gate. No violence. Only black flags. The meeting is over. No questions."

But how did the gentle and benign idli turn so vicious as to make mincemeat of the tough RSS bones?

"Ah, that's another fascinating twist", said Deep Throat. "Getting wind of Yeddyurappa's rants against him and the idlis, Siddaramaiah called a meeting of his own at midnight."

Deep Throat, who had hovered around this meeting too, had this to say: "Siddaramaiah turned to a table next to him and snatched from it the lovely statuette of a woman, presented to him by an NRI sculptor in Dubai. He smashed it on the floor. Turning to minister DK Shivakumar (of the Jab-IT-Officials-Met-Shivakumar fame, who hails from Sathnur), he ordered him to go out and fetch some mud. Then picking up the pieces of the statuette, Siddaramaiah smeared them with the mud the minister had brought. The chief minister then said that the broken artifact, that of one Jambavati Anasuya, had been dug up from the Hampi ruins along with stone inscriptions that prove idli was her invention in year 864 AD. The Thanjavur king Vijayalaya Chola's chef stole the recipe from her. That's what the press must be told. Shivakumar will deal with RSS. Idli belongs to Karnataka as much as the soil on which I'm standing and the air I'm breathing."

The chemical analysis of the idlis, Deep Throat revealed, exposed sharp and heavy gravel stones embedded in them. The stones were suspiciously similar to those normally found in Sathnur.

This is a satirical piece. The author wrote a weekly satire column called True Lies in The Times of India from 1996 to 2001. He tweets at @sprasadindia

Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 11:46 AM

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