Coming down heavily on ‘restriction being placed on Muslim traders from participating in temple festival BJP MLC A H Vishwanath, criticized Anil Benake, an MLA for his communal remark on Muslim traders and termed it as “wrong”, “undemocratic” and “madness”
The remarks by A H Vishwanath came in the wake of some temples in Udupi and Shivamogga barring Muslim traders from participating in the festivals following demands by groups like VHP, Hindu Jagarana Vedike, Bajrang Dal and Sree Rama Sene. Such calls are now being raised in other parts of the state as well.
The BJP government has justified the curbs as the result of a rule introduced in 2002, during the Congress’s tenure, to bar non-Hindus from running shops in temple premises.
“This is all madness. No God or religion preaches these kinds of things. Religions are inclusive and not exclusive. The state government must intervene. I don’t know why the government is mum over this issue,” Vishwanath said in his home district of Mysuru on Sunday, adding that the move was “undemocratic”.
“How many Indians are there in England ? How many Indians are there around the world? How many Indians are working in Muslim countries? If these countries decide to act against us, where will all this end up… Muslims in India chose to live in India when the partition of India and Pakistan occurred. They did not go with Jinnah. We must ponder on this, they remained here to be Indians. They are Indians, not people of some other nationality,” he said.
“I cannot understand on what basis they are targeting Muslim vendors and businesses. This is a very sorry state of affairs. The government must take action or there will be a reaction from the people,” Vishwanath said.
“People need livelihoods to feed themselves and cloth themselves and if there is no means of livelihood then what is the point of democracy, religion, caste — throw it all away. When there is no means to buy food, what are we searching for in this world,” he said.
Vishwanath is a former Congress minister and ex-state president of JD(S). The veteran OBC leader switched to the BJP in 2019 to help the party and its leader B S Yediyurappa come to power in Karnataka. He was denied a Cabinet berth after failing to get elected to the state legislature but was nominated to the council.
Vishwanath is known as a Kannada writer and novelist as well. He left the Congress after falling out with fellow OBC leader and former C M Siddaramaiah when the party was in power between 2013 and 2018.
Benake, the MLA from Muslim-dominated Belagavi North constituency, said he was not in favour of the restrictions on Muslim traders.
“There is no question of imposing restrictions during temple festivals. If people impose restrictions, there is nothing that we can do. We will, however, not allow these things to happen. It is wrong to say that people should purchase only in some stores and not in other stores. Under the Constitution, everybody has equal rights. Anybody can conduct business anywhere and people must decide where they want to buy from, that is all. We will not impose restrictions,” he said.