NEW DELHI: A court in Punjab has summoned Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge over his party’s promise to ban right-wing outfit Bajrang Dal in Karnataka. According to reports, Sangrur court in Punjab issued a summon to the Congress chief in connection with a Rs 100 crores defamation case filed by Hitesh Bhardwaj, the founder of Hindu Suraksha Parishad, against Kharge for “making defamatory remarks against Bajrang Dal” during the recently concluded Karnataka elections.
It may be noted that Congress, in its election manifesto for Karnataka Assembly Elections, promised to impose a ban on outfits like PFI and Bajrang Dal. The Congress manifesto for Karnataka had stated that it will “take strong action against organisations like Bajrang Dal that promote enmity and hatred among different communities”. It also promised to protect minorities from “communal violence” and “false cases”.
It had named the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim group banned for alleged links to terrorism, along with the Bajrang Dal, which is often linked with vigilantism, violence and moral policing. In the face of a backlash from members of the ruling BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress clarified the promise, saying it had “no proposal to ban the Bajrang Dal” because banning an organisation like it came under the central government.
However, the main opposition party hit back at the Prime Minister, accusing him of “hurting religious sentiments” of devotees by equating Lord Hanuman with the Bajrang Dal, and demanded an apology from him. The Congress later staged a stupendous victory in the May 10 assembly election by winning 135 seats out of a total of 224 in Karnataka.
Not Afraid Of Ban: VHP
The Bajrang Dal is not afraid of the Congress’s threat of a ban in Karnataka, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) functionary said recently. “If they ban the Bajrang Dal out of their hatred for the Hindus, necessary steps will be taken,” VHP’s general secretary Milind Parande said in Indore. During the Ram janmabhoomi movement, the Bajrang Dal was banned but the court quashed it, calling it wrong, he said.
Congress Sweeps Karnataka Elections
According to the Election Commission of India, Congress won 135 seats pushing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of power in the only southern state it ruled and emerging as the natural opposition party in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. BJP managed to win 66 seats. Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) bagged 19 seats. Independents have won two seats while Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha and Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha won one seat each.
Many Opposition leaders congratulated the Congress for its emphatic victory in Karnataka and credited the success to the impact of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. Following the defeat, Basavaraj Boommai submitted his resignation and accepted the responsibility, saying they will conduct a detailed analysis and will come back stronger.
“We had an informal meeting with our president and we have discussed certain issues and we’ll shortly call elected representatives and the people who contested. We will have an in-depth analysis and do the course correction to come back to power in the Lok Sabha elections,” said Bommai.
Elections in Karnataka were held on May 10 and saw a voting percentage of 73.29 per cent. With a 42.88 per cent vote share, the Congress created history by registering the biggest vote share by any party in the Karnataka assembly polls in the last 34 years.
Congress Observers To Hand Over Report To Kharge
Amid intense lobbying for the chief minister’s post in Karnataka, the three central observers deputed by the Congress on Monday returned to the national capital after speaking individually to the newly elected MLAs. The observers will hand over the report on the views expressed by the majority of the MLAs to party president Mallikarjun Kharge later in the day.
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah and PCC president D K Shivakumar are both staking claim to the top post and are lobbying hard for it. Kharge had appointed former Maharashtra chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde, party general secretary Jitendra Singh and former AICC general secretary Deepak Babaria as observers for the election of the CLP Leader of Karnataka.
The three leaders along with the AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Randeep Surjewala left Bengaluru for Delhi and will meet Kharge. The observers spoke individually to all the newly elected MLAs and sought their opinion on who should be the chief minister of the state.
However, highly placed sources have confirmed that senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah will be the next Chief Minister of Karnataka and the party’s state unit president D K Shivakumar will be his deputy. Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge is expected to make a formal announcement in this regard on Monday after the party’s impressive victory in the crucial assembly elections held in the southern state.
Earlier, during the meeting of the Congress Legislature Party in Bengaluru on Sunday evening the MLAs passed a one-line resolution authorising the party president to appoint the CLP leader in the state who would be the next chief minister.