BENGALURU: Bengaluru police’s order prohibiting the entry of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia into the city for a week rocked both the Houses of the state legislature on Wednesday.
The Council and the Assembly witnessed uproarious scenes that forced the presiding officers to adjourn the Houses for the day without any business being transacted. However, the Question Hour was taken up by the Houses. Togadia was scheduled to address the Virat Hindu Samajotsava to be held in the city on Sunday. Togadia has been banned from entering the city till February 11.
Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar and former deputy chief minister R Ashok raised the issue in the Assembly. Terming it an ‘emergency-like situation’, they said Togadia has been deprived of his right to speak. Shettar accused the government of trying to appease the minorities and hurt the religious sentiments of the majority community. “The government is trying to politicise the issue,” he said.
Ashok said the Congress government had given permission for minority communities to conduct their programmes. “Now, by prohibiting the VHP leader from entering the city, the government is trying to suppress the rights of Hindus,” he said. He said Togadia had recently addressed rallies in Bhatkal, Vijayapura, Bidar and Bagalkot without causing any problem.
Ashok even accused the government of taking a lenient approach in dealing with terror suspects from minority communities. This made Higher Education Minister R V Deshpande to interfere. He said the government will not show any leniency in dealing with terror suspects.
He assured them that the Home Minister will soon make a statement on the issue in the House.
Not satisfied with Deshpande’s response, BJP members demanded that Chief Minister Siddaraiamah make a statement. Siddaramaiah defended the Bengaluru city police’s move and said the government will not allow anyone to disturb the city’s peaceful atmosphere.
“Be it a leader from the majority community or minorities, our approach will be same. We will not allow anyone to speak if they disturb peace in the city,” he said.
There was complete pandemonium when members from BJP and ruling Congress started speaking at the same time. BJP legislators rushed to the well raising slogans against the government. The proceedings were adjourned for 10 minutes. However, heated arguments continued when the House resumed after an hour, forcing the Speaker to adjourn it for the day.
In the Council: Leader of Opposition K S Eshwarappa launched a scathing attack on the government. Terming the move to ban Togadia’s entry as “dictatorial”, he asked whether the state government wants to impose an Emergency.
The fierce attack drew strong protests from Congress members. This forced Chairman D H Shankaramurthy to adjourn the House for 10 minutes. However, the Chairman allowed Eshwarappa to make preliminary submission for an Adjournment Motion on the issue when the House reassembled.
Eshwarappa said that the city police had in fact given permission on February 3 for the proposed VHP rally in which Togadia was to participate. But within hours the order banning Togadia’s entry was issued. He accused the Siddaramaiah government of bringing political pressure on the police to ban Togadia from entering the city. This triggered loud protests from Congress members and equally strong jeers from BJP.
Citing the fact that Togadia had in the recent past addressed several rallies in the state and there were no reports of any untoward incidents, Eshwarappa said many cases have been slapped against Togadia, but he has not been convicted in a single case.
Eshwarappa said that the ban would only result in at least 25,000 more people turning up for the convention. Senior Congress member V S Ugrappa tried to stop the debate by raising a point of order, which triggered more protests, forcing the Chairman to adjourn the House for the day.
Challenges Order in High Court
Meanwhile, Togadia approached the High Court on Wednesday challenging the ban order. He contended that the order issued by City Police Commissioner M N Reddi on February 3 is arbitrary and unconstitutional. The plea is expected to be heard on Thursday.