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Alleged Pro-Pakistan Slogan, BJP Demands Dismissal of Congress Government in Karnataka

Alleged Pro-Pakistan Slogan, BJP Demands Dismissal of Congress Government in Karnataka

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Feb 28: The Congress woes continues. After the jolt to the Himachal Pradesh government, the BJP has threatened to demand dismissal of the Congress government in Karnataka while the desertion from the party ranks continued in Assam.

Delivering another jolt to the Congress after the exit of leaders like former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and former MP Milind Deora in Maharashtra, the party’s Assam working president has quit and is likely to join the BJP. Rana Goswami, a former MLA from Jorhat, announced his resignation in a letter to Congress General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal on Wednesday. He wrote, “I beg to state that I am tendering my resignation as the working President of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee and as an active member of Indian National Congress.”

The BJP in Karnataka is also getting ready to meet Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot on Thursday and submit a petition to him seeking dismissal of the Congress government for some of its supporters alleged to have shouted pro-Pakistan slogan. After the Assembly was adjourned for the day, Leader of the Opposition R. Ashok told media persons that the BJP would continue its protest against the government till the person who shouted the slogan was arrested.

Congress sources said Mr Goswami is now in New Delhi where he is likely to meet BJP President JP Nadda and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. The party’s core group from Assam and the national leadership are meeting in the capital to decide on candidates for the Lok Sabha elections from the state and to take a call on how many seats should be left for its allies.

Mr Goswami was at the forefront of making preparations for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s recent Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra in Assam and had been questioned by the police a few days ago after a case was filed over deviating from the route for the march. On Sunday, however, the former MLA had quit as the organisational in-charge in Upper Assam citing “various political reasons.”

Earlier this month, another Congress working president, Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, had resigned and extended his support to the BJP government in the state. He was joined by fellow Congress MLA Basanta Das. Excluding them, the Congress now has only 23 MLAs in the 126-member Assembly.

Reacting to Mr Goswami’s resignation, the Leader of the Opposition in Assam, Debabrata Saikia, said, “Rana Goswami was a very senior leader. He rose in the party from the grassroots. He was a two-time MLA and also worked at the national level. I think the Congress has given him whatever it could as a dedicated party worker. He must have been dissatisfied or there may be some other things, which we don’t know, that compelled him to leave a party he has served for so long.” “My appeal to him is to state the reasons for leaving the party. If he tells us, we can act on his grievances and the party can grow. Opposition is a must in Indian democracy and we cannot allow an opposition-free India,” Mr Saikia added.

On Mr Purkayastha’s support for the BJP, Mr Saikia claimed he was harassed by the vigilance department during the Durga Puja festival last year. “He was under severe pressure and was compelled to go to the BJP. Kamalakhya resigned as he could not withstand the assault of the Enforcement Directorate and other agencies in bogus cases.”

In Bengaluru, a day after supporters of Rajya Sabha winner from Congress, Syed Nasir Hussain, allegedly raised “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans in the corridors of the Vidhana Soudha, the BJP on Wednesday demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led Congress government for “providing protection to pro-Pakistani and anti-India elements” in the State and demanded National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the incident.

The Legislative Council also saw uproarious scenes and the BJP and the Congress members nearly came to blows at one point.

Home Minister G. Parameshwara said in the Assembly that the police had registered a case, and if the FSL report proves that a supporter had indeed shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, action would be initiated. In the Legislative Assembly, Leader of the Opposition R. Ashok raised the issue and said the government has been “shielding the accused” involved in the alleged incident and none had been arrested or inquiry initiated.

Alleging a “complete breakdown of law and order in the State”, Mr Ashok said Mr Hussain has not even condemned the incident and he tried to attack media reporters when he was questioned on the issue. Mr Ashok condemned the government’s inaction for “appeasing the minority community” for votes. The Congress should have suspended the newly-elected MP, he said, and asked: “What will be the situation of the Rajya Sabha if candidates of this credentials are elected. How do you (Congress) give ticket to such a leader?”

Speaker U.T. Khader too condemned the incident and told the government to take the issue seriously and punish the person who raised the slogan in the interest of the State and the nation. Responding to the furore, Dr Parameshwara said: “If the FSL report indicates that the person shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, then we will punish that person. We will punish him as per the law. We are not protecting anyone. Investigation is under way.” He assured that the government would “punish severely” any person who raises “Pakistan Zindabad” slogan in any part of Karnataka.

Dissatisfied with the reply, BJP members trooped into the well of the House and raised slogans against the Congress. In the midst of the protest, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day, without taking up any agenda listed for the day.




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