Opposition leader Congress leader Siddaramaiah led a protest and questioned the need to include a controversial figure in the Karnataka assembly.
The Karnataka BJP government’s decision to display Hindutva icon Veer Savarkar’s image in the state assembly sparked angry protests from the opposition on the first day of the assembly’s winter session in Belagavi.
The protest was led by Congress leader Siddaramaiah, the Leader of the Opposition, who questioned the need to feature a controversial figure inside the Karnataka assembly. During the protest on the steps of the assembly building, Congress leaders held up photographs of Jawaharlal Nehru.
“They want us to disrupt and protest the assembly. They know we’re going to bring up corruption issues during the session, so they’re trying to stir up trouble by displaying the Savarkar portrait without consulting the opposition “DK Shivakumar, leader of the Karnataka Congress.
This is the latest in a string of controversies surrounding Veer Savarkar in Karnataka in the months leading up to the state election in 2023. According to BJP leaders, the state-wide campaign to “raise awareness” about Veer Savarkar included honouring his portrait in Belagavi. Veer Savarkar also has ties to Belagavi, which is currently at the centre of a border dispute between Karnataka and neighbouring Maharashtra.
In 1950, Savarkar was held in preventive detention for four months at the Hindalga central prison in Belagavi. The arrest warrant was issued in Mumbai, and Savarkar was apprehended as soon as he arrived in Belagavi.
The Hindu ideologue was held in preventive detention in an attempt to prevent him from protesting the visit to Delhi of former Pakistan Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan. After his family filed a petition, he was released. He also filed a document with the Bombay High Court promising not to engage in political activities.
This is the last winter session of the Karnataka government led by Basavaraj Bommai before the state election next year.
The Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute is expected to dominate the 10-day session. A Shiv Sena MP who wanted to join the Belagavi protests was barred from entering the district.
Dhairyasheel Mane, a Lok Sabha MP from the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction, wanted to attend a protest in Belagavi organised by the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti. With over 61 organisations requesting permission to protest during the assembly session, the state has decided to deploy as many police officers as possible on the ground. To combat tensions, over 4,000 police officers have been stationed in Belagavi.