Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge today refused to speak on the controversy over the proposed ban on Bajrang Dal in the party’s manifesto for Karnataka. “Dr Parameshwara has already clarified. He was the chairman of the drafting committee. He has already replied yesterday, I don’t want to reply,” he told NDTV. “Once my party people have replied, I don’t want to give my individual opinion,” he added.
Asked about Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s comment that Bajrang Dal leaders will rebel against Congress, he said, “Whatever Bommai is saying, he said… We are not obliged to reply to Bommai’s queries or if he wants to say (anything), our people are there at state level, they will reply”.
While releasing its manifesto for the May 10 assembly elections in Karnataka, the Congress had said that it is committed to taking firm and decisive action against individuals and organisations such as the Bajrang Dal and the Popular Front of India (PFI), including banning them, for “spreading hatred” among communities over caste and religion.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the Congress, calling the party’s ban promise an attempt to lock up the devotees of Lord Hanuman. The Congress had earlier locked up Lord Ram, and now it wanted to lock up those who chant ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’ (Hail Hanuman), he said.
The Congress, in response, said it was shameful that the Prime Minister has drawn such a parallel. “The prime minister is insulting our faith in Lord Hanuman. He should apologise to the country as he has hurt our religious sentiments. No one has given the prime minister the right to insult Bajrang Bali,” said senior Congress leader Pawan Khera.