BENGALURU: Chants of “Aiyaiyo, Anyaya, Aiyaiyo, Anyaya...” (injustice... Injustice) rent the air as the dominant Vokkaliga community on Wednesday rallied for former Congress minister DK Shivakumar, currently in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money-laundering case.
In a show of solidarity, Nanjavadhoota Swamiji of Sri Gurugunda Bramheshwara Mahasamsthana Mutt, participating in the protest rally on Wednesday, said the leaders from the community are being selectively targeted and said this has to stop.
“What we are showing today is just a sample. Our community’s patience should not be taken to be our weakness. Shivakumar is like a tiger and will remain one even though they have kept him inside,” he added.
Though the rally was well attended, Bengaluru traffic was not derailed as anticipated. Partly because the number of people who turned up was less than what the community leaders had projected. Prior planning by the Bengaluru police too seemed to have helped ensure that were no major traffic snarls. All through the protest march from the National College Grounds to Freedom Park, DKS supporters were found carrying huge placards with his photographs, raising slogans against what they termed as “injustice” by the Central Government.
The police estimates put the number of people at the rally at about 25,000, the organisers, however, claimed it was way above --around 50,000. The Wednesday rally was mostly peaceful, unlike the sporadic agitations across the state in the immediate aftermath of Shivakumar’s arrest, particularly in his constituency Kanakapura and neighbouring Ramanagara.
Senior Congress leaders, speaking at the rally, vied with each other to accuse the Central Government of “political vendetta”. But what stood out was the conspicuous absence the Vokkaliga community’s most prominent leaders, like former prime minister HD Deve Gowda and his son, former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy.
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During the rally, Nanjavadhoota Swamiji of Sri Gurugunda Bramheshwara Mahasamstana Mutt said leaders from the community are being selectively targeted and this has to stop. “What we are showing today is just the sample. Our community’s patience should not be taken to be our weakness,” the seer said. “He is like a tiger and will remain one even if they have kept him inside,” he said extending full support to the Congress leader.
“People are revolting against the central government and today it was the turn of Vokkaliga community to protest against vindictive politics,” said Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao. Former minister and senior Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy accused central agencies of harassing Shivakumar after he turned down top BJP leaders’ offer to join the party.
After the rally, the Vishwa Vokkaligara Maha Vedike submitted a memorandum to the governor urging him to ensure that the agencies do not subject the Congress leader to mental and physical harassment, which they fear.
“What was the need to arrest him when he was cooperating with the probe? We have urged the governor to ensure that he is not subjected to harassment,” said Vedike president YD Ravi Shankar. Most people had come by private buses for the rally and the organisers had even made arrangements to provide food.