HD Kumaraswamy says Pralhad Joshi hails from sect that ‘killed Mahatma Gandhi’, kicks up a storm

Several BJP leaders attacked HD Kumaraswamy for tarnishing the reputation of Brahmins and demanded an apology.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Feb 07, 2023 | 10:01 PM Updated Feb 07, 2023 | 10:01 PM

JD(S) BJP alliance Karnataka Lok Sabha elections

JD(S) leader and former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy is being criticised for his recent alleged controversial remarks on the caste of Union Minister for Coals and Mines Pralhad Joshi.

Enraged over the mocking of the JD(S)’s Pancharathna Yatra, its Legislative Party leader Kumaraswamy stoked controversy by alleging that the RSS was conspiring to make Pralhad Joshi the next chief minister of Karnataka and name eight deputy chief ministers after the conclusion of the Karnataka Assembly polls.

“Joshi does not belong to the Brahmins of South Karnataka. He is not of our culture. He hails from the sect that killed Mahatma Gandhi,” said Kumaraswamy in Hubballi on Monday, 6 February.

He added: “He belonged to the Peshwa Brahmin sect that divides our country and actively indulges in conspiracy politics and other activities. Joshi hails from the sect that attacked and damaged parts of the Sringeri Mutt. He belongs to the Brahmin community that split the mutt.”

Joshi takes a dig at Pancharatna Yatra

In the recently-held BJP special state executive meeting in Hubballi, Joshi had mocked JD(S)’s Pancharatna Yatra and “dynasty politics” in the regional party.

“The JD(S) is carrying out the Pancharatna Yatra. They should have named it the ‘Navagraha Yatre’. As per my count, there are around nine people from JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda’s immediate family who are in active politics. All are ‘dramebaaz’ (people who try to manipulate others through drama, which is usually manufactured). Will they develop the state?” asked Joshi.

He also alleged that the party was also dealing with infighting within Deve Gowda’s family over party tickets and other political issues.

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Kumaraswamy hits back

Dismayed over the statements of Joshi, Kumaraswamy came down heavily on the Union minister by attacking his caste.

He said: “We are receiving an overwhelming response to Pancharatna Yatra. This yatra has created fear in the ruling BJP government. This is one of the main factors that BJP leaders are attacking my party and family.”

He added: “This yatra is aimed at informing people about the welfare programmes and schemes chalked out by the JD(S) for the people of Karnataka. The Pancharatna Yatra stresses on improving the quality of health, education, employment, farmer welfare and housing,” retorted Kumaraswamy.

He said: “The Brahmins that belong to traditional Karnataka believe in ‘Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavantu’ (may all live happily). Joshi does not belong to the Brahmin community of South Karnataka.”

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Kumaraswamy added: “He belongs to the Peshwa Brahmin sect of Maharashtra. These peshwa people do not have culture. In the name of patriotism, they indulge in dirty politics. Therefore, I appeal to the Veerashaivas, Vokkaligas, OBCs, and Dalit communities not to fall victim to the conspiracies of the BJP and the RSS, which would divide the state.”

Fact-check on Prahlad Joshi’s caste

When South First verified facts with historians, it was found that Pralhad Joshi belonged to Chitpavan or Deshashtha Brahmins and was not a Peshwa Brahmin.

Historian and research scholar Krishna Kolhar Kulkarni told South First: “Peshwas are not Brahmins. There are two major different sects in the Brahmin community: One is the Hoysala Brahmin and another is the Deshashtha Brahmin. Then there are sub-sects in both.

“Joshi belongs to the Deshashtha Brahmin sect. This sect has nothing to do with the attack on the Sringeri Mutt. Around 1,000 years ago, this sect was mainly found in northern India. Then they settled on the banks of the Godavari River and spread across Maharashtra and Karnataka.”

Kulkarni, who is also the recipient of the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award, added: “An officers’ troupe led by Peshwas in the Maratha kingdom attacked one of the regions under the control of Tipu Sultan. While returning, the Peshwas found the rich Sringeri Mutt and attacked it. It was not Brahmins that attacked the mutt.”

However, Hindu leaders Nathuram Godse and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who were charged as conspirators in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, belonged to Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin community, who are also knowns as Deshashtha Brahmin.

BJP leaders criticise HDK

Taking an exception to the statements of Kumaraswamy, several BJP leaders — including R Ashok and Nalin Kumar Kateel — lashed out at the JD(S) Legislative Party leader.

Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashok tweeted: “I will strongly condemn this. It does not suit the stature of the former chief minister. Brahmins have significantly contributed to the freedom struggle.”

He added: “While Kumaraswamy may have made such statements out of frustration that his party is losing the assembly polls. I demand his apology to Brahmins.”

Hitting out at the JD(S) leader, BJP national general secretary CT Ravi told reporters: “This statement shows the frustration of Kumaraswamy. He is expressing the Britishers’ policy of divide and rule among the Hindus.”

He asked: “In the first place, why should he bother about who will become the chief minister from the BJP? If the JD(S) comes to power, they have already announced that they will prefer Muslims for the chief minister’s post. So, why do they worry?”

Ravi also said: “The Vokkaligas in the old-Mysuru region have decided that Kumaraswamy will not become chief minister, instead hand over the post to Muslims. This has become a big worry for the JD(S).”

He added: “The BJP parliamentary board will decide who will be the chief minister of Karnataka. Kumaraswamy is not the chief of our parliamentary board. There are no differences within the party. The party will face the Assembly polls under the leadership of Basvaraj Bommai. He will continue to be the leader of our party in Karnataka.”

Not against Brahmins: HDK

Responding to the criticism, Kumaraswamy told reporters on Tuesday: “I am not against the Brahmin community, but only pointed out that Joshi had the DNA of Peshwas. People are making an attempt to misread my statements, stating that I have disrespected Brahmins.

“Deve Gowda’s family has immense respect for the Brahmins. It is highly cultured in the old-Mysuru region. I merely highlighted the conspiracy of the BJP to put a person with the DNA of Peshwas at the helm in Karnataka.”

He also said: “It was during my tenure that the Karnataka Brahmin Development Board was set up in 2018. I also granted two acres of land to the Brahmin Mahasabha near Banashankari.”