The winter session of the Karnataka legislature got off to a stormy start on December 19 with the ruling BJP unveiling the portrait of Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar, and six others, in the Assembly hall of Suvarna Vidhana Soudha (SVS) in Belagavi.
KPCC president D. K. Shivakumar argued that there is no connection between Savarkar and Karnataka. He accused the BJP government of unveiling Savarkar’s portrait at this juncture to divert people’s attention from the problems plaguing the State, including corruption and maladministration.
Later, the opposition Congress staged a protest at the entrance of SVS demanding portraits of several other personalities.
Earlier, Speaker Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri unveiled the portraits of Savarkar, Vallabhbhai Patel, Mahatma Gandhi, Basaveshwara, B.R. Ambedkar, Subhash Chandra Bose and Swami Vivekananda in the Assembly Hall, in the presence of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
The opposition Congress skipped the portrait unveiling programme. Instead, they staged a protest at the entrance of the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha seeking portraits of various other prominent personalities.
Led by Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah and KPCC president D. K. Shivakumar, the protesting Congress members sat on the steps of the entrance of SVS, holding pictures of Kanakadasa, Ambedkar, Valmiki and Kuvempu who, they claimed, had made significant contributions to India.
Before staging the protest, Mr. Siddaramaiah wrote a letter to Mr. Kageri stating his demand. In the letter, Mr. Siddaramaiah said there is a need to keep alive the egalitarian ideals and principles of various iconic personalities by installing their portraits.
He cited Basaveshwara, Narayana Guru, Maharshi Valmiki, Kanakadasa, Jawaharlal Nehru, B.R. Ambedkar, Kuvempu, Vallabhbhai Patel and Babu Jagjivanram as among the numerous people who made an invaluable contribution to the Indian cultural heritage.
BJP State general secretary Ravikumar said the BJP is ready to put up portraits of the personalities suggested by the Congress. In fact, the portraits of Basaveshwara, Ambedkar and Vallabhbhai Patel were among those unveiled in the Assembly Hall, he said.
Regarding Savarkar, he BJP countered that the Congress’ iconic leader and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had hailed Savarkar and his contribution to India.
The Congress then tweaked its strategy. Instead of opposing the statue of Savarkar, they demanded that portraits of other prominent personalities too be displayed in the Assembly Hall.