BJP Hindutva not enough: Why Pramod Muthalik is targeting six seats in Karnataka with ‘Hindu hardliners’

Sri Rama Sene founder Muthalik is keen on fielding 25 'hardliner Hindus' as independent candidates in the upcoming Assembly election in Karnataka.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Nov 15, 2022 | 9:30 AM Updated Nov 15, 2022 | 9:30 AM

Pramod Muthalik

Pramod Muthalik, the founder of the far-right Hindutva outfit Sri Rama Sene, is, it seems, dissatisfied with the BJP and its brand of Hindutva.

“BJP has failed to protect Hindus or Hindutva in Karnataka. We have lost hope in the BJP,” Muthalik told South First, adding that he has hence decided to take matters into his own hands.

“I will field 25 Khattar Hindutvawadis (Hardline Hindus) in the upcoming 2023 Assembly elections in Karnataka. I am confident of winning at least six seats,” Muthalik said.

The right-wing outfit leader’s outburst came in the backdrop of Congress MLA from Narasimharaja, Tanveer Sait, suggesting he would build a 100-foot statue of Tipu Sultan in Mysuru or Srirangapatna soon.

“We will demolish that statue if it is ever built,” Muthalik retorted to Sait’s statement.

Dissatisfied Hindutvawadi

Seemingly unhappy with the recent developments, Muthalik, on Sunday, announced that he was going to field 25 Khattar Hinduwadis — including himself — for the upcoming elections.

The candidates, Muthalik added, have resolved to enter politics to “save Hindutva”.

“We have allied with around 22 pro-Hindu outfits including the Hindu Maha Sabha, Rashtriya Bajrangdal Sene, etc. We also have with us three Hindu seers who will contest polls and the survey is on for which candidate to field in which constituency, along with the preparations,” Muthalik told the South First.

“We are 100 percent confident that we will win in at least six constituencies in the state.”

Not his first electoral foray

This is not the first time Muthalik is trying his hand at electoral politics.

In 2014, Muthalik had a short, five-hour stint in the BJP after being inducted into the party. But, within hours, the high command of the saffron party distanced itself from him.

Following a huge uproar within the party over inducting Muthalik — who had a dubious reputation over his outfit’s moral policing and attacks on civilians, especially the infamous Mangaluru pub attack in 2009 — the BJP cancelled his membership.

Muthalik then contested 2014 Lok Sabha election on his own, but unsuccessfully.

BJP unperturbed

The BJP, however, is unflustered by the development.

BJP spokesperson Captain Ganesh Karnik told South First: “As BJP, we understand and appreciate his concerns, which is core to nationalism. There have been small deviations in the past, too; however, the intelligent electorate of Karnataka is very much aware of such deviations, and has always stood by the BJP.”

“Both at the Centre and in the state, we need to resolve social issues in a systematic manner and as per law, as we not only abide by our Constitution, but we are also a democracy,” he said.

“Muthalik’s issues are close to our hearts and we see this — fielding of 25 Hinduwadis — only as an expression of his feelings. It will have no serious political implications on the fortunes of the party,” Karnik added.

“There is no meaning in him (Muthalik) fielding 25 Hinduwadis for the elections; and how is it going to help? If he really wants to do something good for the state, and really support Hindutva, he has to support the BJP,” Karnataka BJP General Secretary Ravi Kumar said.

‘Not likely to impact BJP’

Political analysts, too, believe the “Hindu hardliner” push will not impact the BJP’s prospects.

Analyst Narayana A, professor at Azim Premji University, told South First: “From the earliest (oldest) form of the BJP party till its current form as Modi’s BJP, there have been always been hardline factions that would complain about the main party not being hardline enough.”

“Even the RSS, which did not want to play a political role, was criticised by the Hindu Mahasabha of not being hardline enough. Later on, when the party evolved as the Jana Sangh, the Hindu Mahasabha had complained about them as well.

“There will always be extreme right wing groups that are not in line with the main party, but at no point of time have they been able to make a dent in the electoral mandate which the main party garners,” he noted.