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Karnataka BJP chief urges workers to prioritize "love jihad" over civic issues

Karnataka BJP chief urges workers to prioritize love jihad over civic issues

Bengaluru: Nalin Kumar Kateel, the president of the Karnataka branch of the Bengaluru-based Bharatiya Janata Party, has urged his party's supporters to concentrate on combating "love jihad" rather than "minor issues" like sewage and road issues, setting off a political brawl in the state where elections are scheduled for later this year.

On Monday, Kateel spoke to BJP members at "Booth Vijaya Abhiyana" in Mangaluru saying, “Do not discuss small issues like roads and sewage...If you’re worried about your children’s future, and if you want to stop love jihad, then we need BJP. To get rid of love jihad, we need the BJP.”

Right-wing organisations use the phrase "love jihad" to describe relationships between Muslim males and Hindu women.

Laws prohibiting "forcible" conversions have already been passed in a number of BJP-ruled states, including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. The Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, also known as the anti-conversion bill, was passed by the Karnataka Legislative Council in September of last year. It imposes severe penalties, including jail terms of up to 10 years and fines of one lakh rupees, for conversion by "force, allurement, or fraud."

However, right-wing organisations have been calling for a special law to combat "love jihad." In Mangaluru, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other organisations last month established a helpline to handle "love jihad" cases.

Kateel asserted that the BJP is the only party that has the authority to introduce legislation prohibiting "love jihad" and added, “BJP was the one that brought a law against cow slaughter, and which introduced a law against religious conversion. BJP will be the one which will bring in a law against love jihad.”

Accusing the ruling party of attempting to polarise voters, the opposition Congress scorned the remarks.

“This is a very bad message. This is proof that they are trying to spread hatred and break up the country rather than giving priority to development,” said DK Shivakumar, the state Congress chief.

“While we are focusing on development, job creation, hunger, price rise, they are just playing people on emotion,” he added.

Prior to the state's assembly elections, Congress MLA Priyank Kharge claimed that the BJP is attempting to polarise the electorate by having nothing to offer the public. “The message is loud & clear by the BJP President. With nothing to showcase to the people, BJP will resort to polarizing the elections. One never hears BJP speak on the development of state or about youth’s future,” Kharge tweeted.

Additionally, the state BJP president asked the party members whether they preferred a "Karnataka with terrorists" or a "Nava Karnataka" (New Karnataka). Kateel attacked KPCC president DK Shivakumar, branding him a "party of terrorists" and accusing him of endorsing terrorists. He further asserted that Congress officials are corrupt including Shivakumar and Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah.

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