In a fresh controversy, Karnataka Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj and former Deputy CM KS Eshwarappa has said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will give tickets to a candidate from any community but from the Muslim community. As per a report in The News Minute, the Minister who has a history of making controversial statements was holding a press conference ahead of Belagavi Lok Sabha bye-polls, which fell vacant due to the demise of former Minister of State Railways Suresh Angadi.
Eshwarappa said, "Whoever we might give it (ticket) to-- maybe Kurubas, Lingayats, Vokkaligas or Bramins--but definitely not Muslims. Today Belgaum is a center for Hindutva, there is no question of giving it to Muslims, and we will give it to the people of Hindutva. I don't know if we will give it to 'Rayanna Sri Kshetra' or 'Chanamma Sri Kshetra' or 'Shankaracharya Sri Kshetra' we will sit and discuss."
Disgusting & shameful, but not surprising: Owaisi
Commenting on the statement, Asaduddin Owaisi, President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) wrote on Twitter, "Disgusting & shameful, but not surprising. Hindutva believes that only 1 community has the right to political power & all others are subservient. This ideology cannot co-exist with our Constitution, which talks about liberty, fraternity, equality & justice."
This statement from Eshwarappa, however, is not an isolated controversy. In a somewhat similar way, ahead of the 2019 General Election, he said the BJP would not offer Muslim candidates tickets. He had said, "We won't give tickets to Muslims in Karnataka. Why? Because you don't believe in us. Believe us and we'll see." He was responding to a question on Iqbal Ansar, a leader who had then recently changed the party from JD(S) to BJP was in the contention to get a ticket.
Ahead of the 2018 Karnataka Assembly elections, in another instance of his incendiary comments, he stated that Muslims who are with Congress were "killers", while those with the BJP were "good Muslims." He had claimed, "Muslims who killed 22 RSS and BJP activists are with the Congress and those who are good Muslims are with the BJP."