The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday staged a demonstration near the Karnataka assembly against the alleged failures of the Congress government, on a day the ruling party, led by chief minister Siddaramaiah, staged a dharna in the national capital to protest the Centre’s “injustice” meted out to the state in devolution of taxes.
The BJP’s protest, led by state unit chief BY Vijayendra, opposition leader R Ashoka and former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, was held in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue near the Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru. The situation, however, escalated when the protesters marched towards the state assembly and tried to lay siege to the premises, prompting police to take them into preventive custody.
Police also set up blockades at the entrances of the assembly as a precautionary measure, police officials said.
The protests triggered a sharp reaction from the Congress which slammed the BJP for not joining the agitation in Delhi.
The BJP’s protest near the state assembly was attended by several legislators and party workers and supporters who raised slogans against the state government.
“Siddaramaiah wants to attract attention. He does not want to solve the problems. How right it is to take all the MLAs to protest in Delhi instead of speaking to the Prime Minister about the issue,” former chief minister BS Yediyurappa said.
Top Congress leaders from the state, led by Siddaramaiah, staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Wednesday against the Centre’s “injustice” meted out to Karnataka in tax devolution and grants-in-aid over the past few years. Deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar, several MPs, ministers and MLAs from the state took part in the protest. Siddaramaiah said the protest is not against the BJP but the alleged discrimination by the Centre against Karnataka.
Yediyurappa termed the Congress’s dharna in the national capital a “drama” in order to hide the failures of its administration. “There is no reason to protest against the Union government. The Congress has lost confidence and will lose miserably in the next elections. That’s why they are resorting to these theatrics,” he said.
Speaking on similar lines, Bommai said: “There was never any other government, which did so much drama in the history of Karnataka, by staging demonstrations in Delhi against the Centre.”
He added: “The government has failed on every count, be it administration, law and order, development works, protecting the water resource of the state and drought management. How can they stage a demonstration in Delhi? They should be ashamed of it.”
Bommai challenged the chief minister to disclose the extent of funds that the state had received from the Centre during the UPA dispensation as well as the BJP-led NDA rule.
Holding placards, the BJP protesters raised slogans, condemning the Congress government for allegedly failing to offer relief to drought-hit farmers and incentives to milk producers.
“Karnataka has never seen such an irresponsible government in the history of Karnataka politics. The Congress government has failed on all fronts and the guarantee schemes also. The government has not been able to do any development work. In fact, the development work has been completely halted in the state,” Vijayendra said.
“More than 500 farmers have committed suicide in the state but the government has not yet responded to them. Now, it is trying to pass the buck to the Centre for its failure,” he added.
As the protesters tried to lay siege to the assembly, police took them into preventive custody.
“The permission for a protest was granted but since they tried to barge into the assembly, we detained them. They were released immediately thereafter,” a senior police officer said, seeking anonymity.
Meanwhile, GT Devegowda, a senior leader of the Janata Dal (Secular), which is a part of the BJP-led NDA, also criticised the Congress’s agitation in Delhi.
“The state government should not be protesting against an elected central government. The fact is that the financial statement of the government is bad. There has been mismanagement. Apart from the five poll promises, nothing has been done for the people. The Union finance minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) represents Karnataka. So, the chief minister should sit down and discuss instead of resorting to such protests,” he said.
Siddaramaiah hit out at the BJP for not joining his agitation in Delhi. “I had written a letter to all the MPs of BJP and JD(S) to participate in this agitation. But they did not participate. Are they not concerned about the people of the state?” he said.