A sharp right turn under Bommai

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai

When Basavaraj Bommai succeeded B.S. Yediyurappa, many believed he would be able to strike a balance between Hindutva and his socialist moorings. But the Government led by him seems to have taken a sharp right turn, even more than under his predecessor, who was from the RSS stables.

The Basavaraj Bommai-led Government enacted the Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, popularly called the “anti-conversion law”, on the lines of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, what many argue was “more draconian”. It was also preceded by a campaign of vigilante attacks on the Christian community.

The coastal belt also recorded an uptick in moral policing incidents, which Mr. Bommai even defended saying “there will always be a reaction when sentiments are hurt.”

Mr. Bommai’s Government was quick to enact the Karnataka Religious Structures Protection Act, 2021, also, to protect temples and places of worship built on encroached lands from demolition. He recently announced his Government will free Hindu temples from “Government control” and give them autonomy, a long-standing demand of the Sangh Parivar. He has also been trying to pitch development of Anjanadri, believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, to be in line with Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir.

“Mr. Yediyurappa had come from the RSS stables and had the stature, seniority and was winning elections for the party. Mr. Bommai, who has lost an election on his home turf, has jumped on to the Hindutva bandwagon. His Hindutva zeal seems mostly inspired by political pragmatism,” said a senior strategist of the party.

“During the first wave of the pandemic, Mr. Yediyurappa could ask his partymen to stop demonising Muslims over Tablighi Jamaat. Mr. Bommai can ill afford to do that. Even Mr. Yediyurappa let Hindutva ideologues have their way when he was a weak wicket. His Government enacted the anti-cow slaughter legislation and he defended Tejasvi Surya when he targeted Muslim employees of the COVID-19 war room during his last months in power, when there was an internal rebellion,” another senior leader said.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 2:19:40 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-sharp-right-turn-under-bommai/article38335639.ece