BENGALURU: The Karnataka Cabinet is expected to discuss the issue of banning the Popular Front of India (PFI), the ideological wing of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), at its next meeting scheduled to be held on Thursday.
If Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa approves the proposal, the State Home Ministry will write to the Union Home Ministry with its recommendations.
While the State Government cannot propose a ban on the SDPI, since it is a political outfit that has contested elections in Karnataka, the cabinet ministers are set to propose a ban on the PFI.
The SDPI, which was registered as a political party with the Election Commission of India in 2013, has been making gradual inroads, cornering minority votes, in Karnataka since the 2013 Assembly elections.
“They managed to retain their deposit in the Narasimharaja Assembly constituency in Mysuru,” a political analyst, who did not want to be named, pointed out.
‘17 murder cases pending against PFI’
In 2018, the SDPI had contested elections from Chickpet in Bengaluru, Kalaburagi in North Karnataka and Narasimharaja in Mysuru. Though they didn’t win anywhere, they damaged Congress votes in all the three places,” the political analyst added.
The BJP government in Karnataka is reportedly caught in a bind over proposing a ban on the PFI/SDPI because “they know that such a move may consolidate the 15 per cent Muslim vote share in the state in favour of the Congress and may dent the prospects of the saffron party in the only state in South India where it is in power,” the analyst said.
“The SDPI is to Congress as regards Muslim votes, what the Bahujan Samaj Party is for the Grand Old Party as regards Dalit votes, and BJP is aware of this,” he added.
“There are 17 registered cases of murder and attempt-to-murder pending against the PFI and Karnataka Forum for Dignity in the state since 2008 as per the State Government. Successive governments of the BJP-JDS coalition, Congress-JDS coalition and now the BJP had not proposed a ban on SDPI to the Centre. The reasons are obvious. Its presence suits all the three parties,” the analyst said.
Following the arrest of many SDPI members in connection with the violence and arson in Bengaluru on the night of August 11, the BJP has renewed its demand to ban PFI.
“Party state president Nalin Kumar Kateel too has appealed to the government to ban the organisation. Even if we cannot ban SDPI, the PFI can be banned for their activities,” said party state general secretary N Ravi Kumar.
“The incidents that took place in Kadugondanahalli and Devara Jeevana Halli are condemnable. No legislator should be subjected to it. A decision on banning PFI, SDPI will be taken on August 20,” said Anand Singh, Minister for Forests and Ecology.
Prohibitory orders extended
City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant has extended prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in DJ Halli and KG Halli till August 18.
A company of the Rapid Action Force patrolled the area of Sunday too, even as family members, mainly women, protested near DJ Halli police station demanding to know why their sons and brothers were taken into custody when they were at home when the violence broke out.
The police, however, dispersed the group citing prohibitory orders.