Bengaluru: Police on Monday prevented the opposition Congress from holding a protest at the Raj Bhavan here against the one-year-old BJP government in Karnataka.
“Though we asked for police permission to protest at the Raj Bhavan and submit a memo to Governor Vajubhai Vala against the BJP government’s failures, we could not go, as police stopped us 500 metres away from the venue,” Congress state unit President D.K. Shivakumar told reporters here.
The incident occurred hours after the ruling party launched a week-long celebration of its one-year rule in the southern state at the banquet hall in Vidhana Soudha (state Secretariat), diagonally opposite the Raj Bhavan.
“The city police is under pressure from Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai to prevent us from going to the Raj Bhavan, staging a protest and submitting a memo to Vala against the BJP government’s failure on all fronts,” alleged Shivakumar.
A police official, however, told IANS that the protest was not allowed due to Covid-induced ban on public gatherings and to prevent any untoward incident.
“As wearing of masks and maintaining physical distance will not be strictly followed by protestors at such gatherings, the opposition party was told not to proceed to the Raj Bhavan, citing security and law and order issues,” the official told IANS.
As about 200 Congress leaders, including former ministers, legislators and cadres proceeded from the party office to the Raj Bhavan, police blocked them midway at the New Indian Express building, where they staged a sit-in and raised slogans against the BJP government and Yediyurappa.
Alleging that the state government was “anti-democratic and afraid of the opposition”, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah said the BJP came to power again in the state “immorally” through ‘Operation Kamal’, which made 14 Congress and 3 JD-S legislators resign from their Assembly seats in July 2019 and get re-elected in the December 5 bye-elections from the same constituencies.
“Neither the BJP nor Yediyurappa has the moral right to return to power and form their government a year ago by engineering defections in our party and destabiling our Congress-JD-S coalition government in July 2019. The saffron party has done the same in Madhya Pradesh in March and trying to repeat it in Rajasthan now,” asserted the former Chief Minister (2013-2018).
Claiming that growth and development had stagnated ever since the BJP came to power a year ago in the state by undemocratic means, Siddaramaiah said the government had failed to rehabilitate thousands of flood victims in the state’s northern region in August-October last year.
He said it was also unable to prevent the spread of coronavirus since mid-March, causing untold hardships to the people, especially the poor and migrants.
“How can the BJP government be able to succeed in its fight against corona when its party leaders are busy in Operation Kamal to overthrow out a duly-elected government in the state after state,” wondered Siddaramaiah.