Social activist Teesta Setalvad said here on Saturday that the former Chief Minister and president of the Karnataka Janata Paksha B.S. Yeddyurappa had to show something substantial to prove his secular credentials.

There were a number of attacks on the minorities when Mr. Yeddyurappa was heading the BJP government in the State, she told journalists on the sidelines of the decennial celebrations of the Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike.

“He is now blaming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP [for the attacks] and calling himself secular. Are we willing to buy that?” she said, and added, “People should show something substantial to say that they are reformed….”

Secularism

Secularism, Ms. Setalvad said, was not just the name of the party but stands for the ideology the party stands for. The party needs to stand for non-discrimination policy and be in favour of equity in governance, equal access to education and jobs, and equality before law.

Ms. Setalvad accused Mr. Yeddyurappa of allotting land to the RSS when he was the Chief Minister.

Earlier in her speech at the programme, Ms. Setalvad drew parallel to the political developments in Karnataka to that in Gujarat. She said lack of consolidation of anti-BJP and anti-Narendra Modi votes led the BJP’s victory in Gujarat. While the Opposition vote share of 49 per cent was split, the BJP managed to consolidate and maintain its vote share at 51 per cent. The BJP managed to get new votes to overcome the anti-incumbency votes, she said.

Human rights activist Anand Teltumbde said reservation in jobs had not brought any change in the lives of Dalits as large sections of them were not covered.

‘Only few benefit’

Mr. Teltumbde told journalists that only a small section of the total working population was in the organised sector. The 60 per cent reservation provided by the government benefits only about 10 per cent of the Dalits. “Increasingly smaller and smaller sections are getting the benefit.” Moreover, nobody was realising the cost Dalits were paying for reservation. “It is for the Dalits to raise their voice against reservation,” he said.

Inaugurating the decennial celebrations of the vedike, Mr. Teltumbde said people need to fight against the “fascist ideology” followed by parties that continue to be “casteist” in nature. He said he was not only referring to the BJP but also to the Congress and other regional parties. People need not think that Ram Janmabhoomi was no longer an issue with the BJP. “Their entire ideological plank rests on that,” he said.

Writers Sabiha Boomi Gowda and Kavita Lankesh, vedike general secretary K.L. Ashok, Popular Front of India’s state president Illiyas Mohammed Thumbe and State convener of the Karnataka Janashakti Gowri also spoke. A large number of activists associated with the vedike took part in a rally, marking the 10th anniversary celebrations. Folk and revolutionary songs were sung at the programme venue.