A section of Kannada writers — including Jnanpith award winners Girish Karnad and U.R. Ananthamurthy — have come together under the banner of Samakaleena Vichara Vedike to oppose Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, and support the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking at a press conference here on Thursday, Prof. Ananthamurthy said they were speaking in favour of the Congress because they saw a “threat to Indian civilisation and its pluralist culture” in the rise of Mr. Modi. He said Mr. Modi had the “demeanour of a dictator” and his rise in the BJP had ended all moderate voices within the party, including Jaswant Singh. He said that the “lies” about developmental achievements of Mr. Modi were being perpetrated by a “cyber army”.
Mr. Karnad said Mr. Modi had become the single face and voice of the party, and all candidates were asking for votes not in their names, but that of their prime ministerial candidate. “I am not a member of the Congress, but I am with the party now because our future depends on it,” he said. He argued that candidates like Nandan Nilekani (from Bangalore South) represented “excellence of Bangalore” and more like him, such as N.R. Narayana Murthy, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Azim Premji, should enter politics. When asked why the writers, some of whom have earlier been opposed to the Congress, are not supporting a third alternative, writer K.M. Marulasiddappa said: “We are unhappy with the corruption in the Congress. But we do not have an alternative now.”
Prof. Ananthamurthy added that while the Congress represented the corruption of a literal kind, Mr. Modi represented “corruption of the mind”. The press release jointly issued by the writers also spoke about the “pro-people programmes successfully implemented” by the Congress in Karnataka and the schemes of the UPA government at the Centre.BJP’s counterattack
Taking serious exception to the alleged derogatory reference to its Bangalore South candidate Ananth Kumar by Mr. Karnad, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said such comments by him do not befit his literary stature.
Addressing a press conference here, BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashok launched a counterattack on Mr. Karnad for reportedly questioning Mr. Kumar’s contribution to Bangalore city’s development, while campaigning for his political opponent Nandan Nilekani. “Mr. Ananth Kumar has played a crucial role in getting clearance for the drinking water project and the Metro. We now want to ask Mr. Karnad if he really knows Bangalore and its problems,” he said.