AMIDST the build-up to the Ram Temple consecration, led from the front by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP has distanced itself from remarks by its Karnataka MP Anantkumar Hegde that many more mosques need to be demolished in the state.
Naming several mosques across Bhatkal, Uttar Kannada and Mandya, Hegde claimed they were all built over Hindu temples. “In every village of the state, there are small religious places which were violated. Until they are demolished, the Hindu community will not sit idly.”
His statement could be taken as a “threat”, the MP from Uttara Kannada added. “We will definitely do it (demolition). This is a decision of the Hindu community, not of Anantkumar Hegde,” he said, speaking at a meeting in Kumta Saturday.
“Revenge, revenge, revenge… if we do not take revenge for the 1,000 years, then the Hindu community can clearly say that ours is not Hindu blood,” the BJP MP added. “We are not a community which will be in debt. We will clear the debt at any cost.”
On Sunday, police registered a suo motu complaint against Hegde under IPC Section 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (statements conducing public mischief) over his remarks.
BJP MLA and former deputy chief minister C N Ashwath Narayan said Hegde’s remarks were his “personal views”. “I don’t want to say anything more about that. (PM) Modi has called upon the people to ensure harmony, unity and respect for all religions,” he told reporters on Sunday.
Though some temples were converted to mosques, this is not the time to rake up such issues, he added.
In his speech, Hegde targeted Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in particular, calling him ‘Moorka (Foolish) Ramaiah’ and accusing him of “selling his mentality for minority votes”.
Earlier, Siddaramaiah had welcomed the Congress leadership’s decision to stay away from the Ram Temple consecration event.
Siddaramaiah said Hegde’s remarks reflected his culture. “When Ananthkumar Hegde was a Union minister, he said we will change the Constitution when we come to power. Can we expect culture from him? Can they be called civilized?” he said, adding that the use of obscene words only harms the MP’s dignity and not his.
Senior Congress leader and Health and Family Welfare Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said Hegde should first learn how to speak and act in public. “Your disgusting words may appeal to only a few people intoxicated with Hindutva. But, sensible Hindus will never agree with you,” he said.
No stranger to controversy, Hegde has not been active in public life over the past couple of years, but he has started meeting people over the last few weeks ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
As Union minister of state for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Hegde had in 2019 asked how Congress leader Rahul Gandhi could be a Hindu as he was “born to a Muslim father and Christian mother”. In the same year, he said that “a hand that touches a Hindu girl should not exist”.
In 2020, he said that the Independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi was a “drama”. At the time, the BJP central leadership had served a notice to the legislator.
Similarly, in 2017, he had drawn fire for saying that the BJP had come to power to “change the Constitution”.