As the BJP launched protests against him and the Congress distanced itself from his remarks, Satish Jarkiholi, KPCC working president, has withdrawn his statement on the origin of the term “Hindu” that had turned controversial. In a letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, he expressed regret “if the statement has caused distress to anyone”.
However, Mr. Jarkiholi stuck to his demand for an official inquiry into the origins of the term “Hindu” and into “attempts to create confusion over his statement” and quoting him out of context and misrepresenting him. He also requested the Chief Minister to constitute a committee to conduct an inquiry into the “conspiracy to defame him.”
People close to him said that he consented to withdraw the statement after pressure from senior Congress leaders. On Tuesday, there were protests by BJP workers in Belagavi, Bengaluru, and other places and it had threatened to escalate.
In his letter to Mr. Bommai, Mr. Jarkiholi said his statements were based on articles in Wikipedia, dictionaries, and writings by historians. “However, some vested interests are trying to portray me as anti-Hindu. There is a systematic conspiracy to defame me and damage my reputation,’‘ he said. “I am, therefore, withdrawing my statement and expressing regret with the intention that confusion should not be created in the minds of the public.”
At a rally organised by Manava Bandhutva Vedike in Nippani on November 6, he had said that the term ‘Hindu’ was of Persian origin and not Indian. Speaking in Hindi and Marathi, he had said that the origin of the term was “dirty and insulting”. He said that some people were trying to impose the term on Indians without reason. He had called for a debate on the issue.
On Tuesday, he said he would neither withdraw his statement, nor seek an apology. He offered to resign his membership of the Assembly if anyone were to prove in a public debate that his perception of the origin of the term was wrong. However, the Congress dissociated from his statement. Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress spokesperson, said the party condemned the statement. D.K. Shivakumar, KPCC president, also condemned it.
No consistency: CM
Reacting to the episode, Mr. Bommai, who was in Raibag for the Jana Sankalpa Yatre rally, said the Congress lacked consistency on the issue. While Mr. Jarkiholi says he will not apologise, Mr. Shivakumar has condemned it. Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah, however, is trying to evade the issue, he said.