Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders made their presence felt at the Datta Jayanti celebrations that began here on Tuesday.
They addressed gatherings and distributed saris to women who were participating in the three-day event.
Higher Education Minister C.T. Ravi, Karnataka State Women’s Development Corporation chairperson Sarojini Bhardwaj, BJP’s women’s wing president Reena Prakash and BJP workers from Chikmagalur district were among those who took part in Sankeertana Yatra on Tuesday.
Their participation has gained significance in view of the approaching Assembly elections in the State.
Mr. Ravi, whose supporters were seen distributing saris to women at the Minister’s residence, defended the act saying that it was tradition to give guests saris. “Don’t add too much colour to it,” he appealed to journalists.
However, Congress and Janata Dal (S) leaders saw this as a means to lure voters. “Mr. Ravi (who is Chikmagalur MLA) can’t seek votes citing development as he has not done anything. His worry of losing the next election has forced him to stoop to the level of distributing saris in the name of Datta Jayanti,” Janata Dal (S) leader S.L. Dharme Gowda charged.
A larger number of women were said to have taken part in the festivities this year as they were aware of sari distribution in advance.
Sangha Parivar activists, organisers of the Datta Jayanti and Datta Mala Abhiyana, held a ‘homa’ at Bababudangiri after the Sankeertana Yatra.
Ms. Prakash, Ms. Bhardwaj and Chikmagalur Zilla Panchayat president Rekha Huliyappa Gowda attended the ceremony.
Ms. Bhardwaj claimed credit for the BJP for facilitating ‘darshan’ of the ‘Datta Paduka’. She demanded that the shrine be declared a Hindu site by shifting tombs from the premises.
A large number of people took part in the Shobha Yatre organised as part of Datta Mala Abhiyana on Wednesday. A procession from Bolarameshwara temple to Kamadhenu temple was taken out, led by Mr. Ravi, who was wearing saffron.
He told journalists he would continue the political, judicial and religious struggle to declare the shrine as a site for Hindus.
Meanwhile, Bajrang Dal State convener Suryanarayana appealed to all parties not to politicise the issue. “We want the tombs be shifted from the shrine and it to be declared a Hindu place of worship.”