Bengaluru: Targeting the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, senior Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Friday questioned whether those who belonged to the outfit were “native Indians”, “Dravidians” or “Aryans”.
The Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly also blamed the lack of unity within Indian society for the invasion of Mughals and British and their rule for a long period.
Angered by comments against their ideological parent organization, several BJP leaders have sharply reacted and have hit out at the former chief minister.
“Are these RSS people native Indians? Unnecessarily, we don’t want to discuss it and so are quiet…are Aryans from this country? Are they Dravidians? We will have to go to their origins,” Siddaramaiah said, while speaking on a brewing controversy over a lesson regarding RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in school textbooks.
Speaking at the event commemorating former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s death anniversary here, he asked who was responsible for the Mughals to rule the country for 600 years.
“If you were all united, why would they (Mughals) have come (and invaded), who gave them the space? Who is responsible for the British to rule this country for 200 years? I don’t want to go further on this,” he added.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who shared the stage along with Siddaramaiah and other Congress leaders, supported the former CM’s comments and said, he too had said the same thing in the Parliament in the past.
“When there was some controversy and calls for actor Shah Rukh Khan and his family to leave the country…I had told (Defence Minister) Rajnath Singh that you guys have come from central Asia, you are descendants of Hitler, you leave…” he said.
Reacting to Siddaramaiah’s comments, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi said the Congress Legislature Party leader either doesn’t know the facts or was playing a “drama” to please party leader Rahul Gandhi and appease Muslims.
Pointing out that Hedgewar was initially with the Congress and was head of its Seva Dal, he said, “Several Congress leaders have written about his contribution to the freedom struggle and support he gave to revolutionaries. We (the Congress and BJP) may have ideological differences, but Hedgewar was a true patriot and he founded RSS in India.”
BJP national General Secretary C T Ravi said: “He (Siddaramaiah) often sees Bharat and Barateeyate (Indianness) with Macaulay’s viewpoint, when the spirit enters…” he said.
Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh said, “My only answer is those in RSS are Indians and followers of its philosophy, and not Italians or with Italian leadership.”
Senior BJP leader and MLA K S Eshwarappa said RSS members are those who do not follow a foreign leader, as he demanded that Siddaramaiah apologise to the people of the country for his comments.
“RSS is a patriotic organization built by people who are sons of this soil, unlike Congress which is in the hands of (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi. Which country is she from?” he questioned.
Several other BJP leaders too have targeted Siddaramaiah.