BENGALURU: Around 25,000 people from various Vokkaliga communities and pro-Kannada organisations took part in a mass rally conducted in Bengaluru on Wednesday, condemning the arrest of former minister DK Shivakumar by the Enforcement Directorate. While there were no incidents of violence in the city, commuters had a tough time trying to reach their destinations as many roads across south and central Bengaluru were blocked.
The rally began from National College grounds around 11.30 am and ended at Freedom Park. Many Congress leaders, including KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao, former minister Ramalinga Reddy and leaders of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike headed the rally. People travelled to participate from various places including Kanakapura of Ramanagar district, Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan, Kolar and KGF.
Conspicuous in his absence however was JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy, who had visited Shivakumar’s mother in his native village a few days back and offered his support to the family. His wife Anita had also paid a visit to Shivakumar’s house in Bengaluru.
Both were missing from the rally however on Wednesday. Kumaraswamy, speaking at Channapatna, said that the organisers had not informed him of the rally. However, the organisers said that they had first visited his J P Nagar residence to be told he was in Padmanabhnagar at H D Deve Gowda’s house. When they went there, HDK did not give them an audience, they claimed.
There are a few theories as to why Kumaraswamy would choose to skip the rally. Should he have participated, it would have been viewed as unacceptable for a JDS Vokkaliga leader to openly support a Congress leader of the same community. The other reason, according to observers, was that Kumaraswamy did not want to be seen as antagonising the ruling establishment, considering the phone tapping and IMA scam cases are still being investigated.
Protest politically motivated: Shettar
Wednesday’s protest rally in Bengaluru was termed a ‘politically motivated’ rally by BJP minister Jagadish Shettar. Speaking in Belagavi on Wednesday, Shettar said, “The ED and CBI are autonomous bodies working independently. Shivakumar cannot get special exemption from the investigation. If he is not guilty, he and his followers need not worry.”
Think before idolising: Ravi
Reacting to the protest rally in Bengaluru, Tourism Minister C T Ravi, who belongs to the community himself, on Wednesday said, “Vokkaligas must think of who would a role model to them. How can we not ask questions when crores of rupees was found from his house? The law forbids keeping more than `2 crore at home. All of these must be considered by the community, known for its values, while choosing its idols.”
Law the same for all
One cannot simply change the law for D K Shivakumar, revenue minister R Ashok said on Wednesday. “Earlier, when Yediyurappa or Janardhan Reddy were arrested, the laws were not changed. Shivakumar and Janardhan Reddy were close associates, Shivakumar will know that the law cannot be changed. If he has committed no mistake, let him relax. One should not paint the arrest as being motivated by caste. Caste politics is not good. The Union Government has no role in this.”