The Congress and the BJP called off their proposed rallies in Madikeri on August 26, hours after the district administration imposed prohibitory orders across Kodagu fearing a threat to the law and order situation.
The former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced in Bengaluru on Tuesday that the party had decided to put off its scheduled ‘Madikeri Chalo’ programme in view of the Kodagu district administration’s decision to impose prohibitory orders for four days from August 24.
‘Won’t violate law’
The former Chief Minister said he and his party did not wish to violate the law. “It was a party programme and after a consultation with other party leaders, a decision has been taken to put off the programme,” he said, adding that a decision on holding the programme in future would be taken after consulting with other leaders.
Welcoming the Congress’ announcement, BJP leader and former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said the BJP would also drop its plans to go ahead with the Jana Jagruthi convention it had proposed. The Congress was free to plan their programme when peace returns, he added.
The Kodagu administration had earlier imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Cr.PC and Section 35 of the Karnataka Police Act across the district from 6 a.m. on August 24 to 6 p.m. on August 27, effectively thwarting the rallies called by both the Congress and the BJP on August 26.
The Congress called for a ‘Madikeri Chalo’ programme on August 26 to lay siege to the office of the Superintendent of Kodagu district police in protest against the alleged security lapse during Mr. Siddaramaiah’s visit to the district recently when black flags were shown and eggs were hurled at his car. The protests were over Mr. Siddaamaiah’s remarks on Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar.
Soon, the BJP too gave a call for a Jana Jagruthi convention in Madikeri on the same day and appealed to the partymen to gather at Gandhi Maidan in the town in large numbers, thereby setting up the stage for a confrontation between the two political rivals.
The Kodagu district administration has cited a threat to peace and law and order in the communally-sensitive district from the political rallies by the rivals that came in the run-up to the Assembly elections scheduled to be held next year. There were reports that an estimated one lakh people would gather for the Congress programme from different parts of the State while the BJP too was mobilising similar numbers for its convention on the same day.
While recommending ban orders in the district, Superintendent Police Capt. Aiyappa M.S. pointed out that Kodagu was a communally sensitive district that had a history of communal conflagrations, including disturbances that took place following celebration of Tipu Jayanti in November 2015.
According to the prohibitory orders, no public gathering will be allowed except for the already scheduled marriages, naming ceremonies, housewarming ceremonies, and government meetings. No protests, processions, rallies and jathas will be allowed. Gathering of more than five persons, celebrations, bursting of crackers, holding black flags or giving provocative speeches using loudspeakers too have been banned.
Congress spokesperson M. Lakshmana said the BJP’s plan to hold its Jana Jagruthi convention on the same day and same time in Madikeri as the Congress’ demonstration against the lapses of the Kodagu district police during Mr. Siddaramaiah’s visit was part of a “conspiracy” to create a law and order situation and force the administration to impose prohibitory orders.