Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday invoked the teachings of the 12th-century social reformer Basaveshwara against hate and inequality while targeting his alleged misrepresentation in the textbooks by the BJP government in Karnataka.
Addressing a gathering in Bellur town at the end of the day’s padayatra, Mr. Gandhi said Basaveshwara preached against hatred and asked people to treat others like their equals. He said the idea behind the Bharat Jodo Yatra was inspired by the teachings of people such as Basaveshwara.
Mr. Gandhi, who had an interaction with a cross-section of educationists at Nagamangala earlier in the day, said he was asked by them why the Kannadigas’ way of life and Karnataka’s history, culture, and language had come under an attack. “They asked me which force is attacking Basavanna in Karnataka,” he said making a veiled attack on the BJP government in the State.
He also highlighted the problems of farmers, who he said were being forced to cough up the Goods and Service Tax (GST) on fertilizer, pesticides, and tractors. He also referred to the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities such as petrol and LPG.
During the course of his address, Mr. Gandhi trained his guns on the “second richest man in the world who is close to the Prime Minister of India”. Without naming anybody, Mr. Gandhi said this person had made it to the list of richest people in the world like a “rocket”.
After addressing the issues of price rise, the Congress leader said if money was going out of the pocket of common people, it was going into somebody else’s. “Money does not disappear,” he remarked.
He blamed the unemployment problem on the economic policies of the BJP-led government. Small businesses, which provide employment to the people, have been destroyed on account of policies such as demonetisation and GST, he said.
No intention of making Hindi alone national language
Mr. Gandhi said there was no intention of making Hindi alone the national language and threatening the identity of regional languages like Kannada. "There was a discussion with Rahul Gandhi about the identity of Kannada. Then, he said everyone's mother tongue is important. We respect all languages. Everyone has a right in the Constitution," said a senior leader of the party and former Minister Priyank Kharge to reporters while briefing them on the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
"Therefore, he (Rahul Gandhi) clearly stated that there was no intention of making Hindi alone the national language and threatening the identity of your language (Kannada)," said Mr. Kharge, who is also Congress's State media cell in-charge.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Gandhi began his march from K. Mallenahalli circle in Nagamangala taluk before reaching Anche Boovanahalli for a break. The padayatra resumed in the evening and reached the bus stand in Bellur town, marking the conclusion of their Mandya district leg of the march.
After a night halt at the stadium in Adichunchanagiri Mutt in Nagamangala taluk, the participants will resume their march from Mayasandra in Turuvekere on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Congress party veteran M. Mallikarjun Kharge, who was scheduled to participate in the padayatra, did not turn up on Friday. However, working president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee R. Dhruvanarayan told The Hindu that Mr. Kharge came to Mandya on Thursday, but left the venue of the padayatra programme as he is a candidate for the party’s presidential polls. “As the elections are scheduled to be held on October 17, he needs to visit different States,” he said.