The BJP in Karnataka faces questions which have left the haters of dissent in a state of shock. Amit Shah, the national president of Bharatiya Janata Party, was in Mysuru on March 30, 2018, to interact with the Dalit leaders. His speech was interrupted by the enraged Dalit leaders in the audience. Amit Shah was questioned about the party’s silence on and ignoring Anant Kumar Hegde’s infamous speech in December 2017. This led to a tussle between BJP activists and the protesters; the BJP activists attempted to get the protesters out of the event: the protesters stepped out of the venue sloganeering against BJP.
Hegde in this speech had questioned the validity of secularism in the country. He had said, if BJP came to power they would change the Constitution.
Mocking at the public intellectuals and concerned citizens, who speak about secularism and secular fabric of Indian democracy and thus question the communal politics of the present government, Hegde had made that remark. This speech of Anant Kumar Hegde had sparked a huge uproar in the state and the country. The speech from a democratically elected Union Minister and a Member of Parliament gave a sense of authority for what he had said. The party leaders, including the supremos, were questioned. The silence and complete disownment of this remark by the BJP leaders, yet again presented a reason to go back into history and look into the relationship that BJP-RSS had with the Constitution and Dr Ambedkar. Renowned writer Devanoora Mahadeva came out in protest and in an open letter to the minister said:
...Then, like a battle cry on the warfront, you said, “we will change the Constitution…that is why we are here!” If the task of drafting the Constitution had fallen into the hands of the likes of you and your ancestors, the illusionists, then you would have created hell and called it heaven.Mother India survived precisely because Dr Ambedkar drafted the Constitution. Care should be taken to ensure that constitutional amendments move follow the principles of the Constitution’s Preamble. It would bode well for you to remember this, especially as a member of parliament.
The protesting Dalit leaders on March 30, 2018, saying this remark of Hegde is an insult to Dr B R Ambedkar, the symbol and a leader of the anti-caste struggle in the country, caused an embarrassment to Amit Shah. After Shah calling Yeddyurappa, the Chief Ministerial candidate of BJP, the most corrupt leader and MP Prahlad Joshi saying PM Modi has done nothing for SC/ST: Shah was left dumb with the protesting leaders. All that he could do is, repeat the same old mantra, “BJP has got nothing to do with his remarks.” A report in Prajavani also noted that the protesters questioned Shah for not taking any action against Hegde and this, in turn, resulted in the chaos.
Earlier on January 20, 2018, Hegde encountered a large protest when he was in Bellary to speak at a job fair and skill exhibition. Enraged by the protesters, Hegde had said, his responsibility as skill development minister was to work towards realising the development dreams of Narendra Modi, and he does not care about “barking stray dogs”. Referring to the protesting Dalit activist as stray dogs, Hegde had given rise to another controversy.
Against this backdrop, the Dalit leaders protested in a gathering which was supposed to be his “interaction” with the Dalit leaders. Amit Shah, who does not like to be questioned, was questioned. With elections on May 12, 2018, BJP will have to face many such questions from the workers, farmers, artisans, students, teachers and many more.