In Karnataka, a senior BJP lawmaker, AH Vishwanath, has questioned the state government’s “silence” on banning Muslim vendors from trading during temple festivals. He even wondered what the government would do if other Muslim-majority countries started treating Hindus like we treat Muslims. This has become even more trending on social media.
On Sunday, BJP Legislative Council Member AH Vishwanath from Mysuru said, “It is very dangerous to indulge in religious politics. One should never use religion to win elections. How many elections will you win based on this? He further invoked the Prime Minister’s vision, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the message of ‘Sab ka vikas and vishwas’. But our state is going in the wrong direction. How will these Muslims, who sell flowers, fruits and puja materials near temples, make a living? That equates to untouchability.”
“How many Indians live in the UK? How many Indians do you think there are on the planet? In Muslim-majority countries, how many Indians work? What will happen if these governments decide to take action against them? able to welcome them if they are expelled from these countries? “asked the former minister
“When India and Pakistan were divided, Indian Muslims decided to stay in India. They were not in favor of Jinnah. This is something we should consider. They stayed because they wanted to be Indians. They are Indians, not people of other ethnicities,” Vishwanath told reporters.
Following pressure from right-wing organizations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Sree Rama Sene, a number of temples in Udupi and Shivamogga districts had banned Muslim merchants from attending their festivals. The ban on Muslim vendors has now extended to state temple festivities. The restriction is based on a 2002 ordinance imposed by a Congress-led government that barred non-Hindus from conducting businesses on temple grounds.
“I don’t know why they are targeting Muslim sellers and businesses in particular. It’s a pretty bad state of the art. The government must step in and help. Alternatively, there will be a public response,” he warned. “People have means of subsistence to feed and clothe themselves; if there is no means of subsistence, what good is democracy, religion, caste – throw everything away. What are we looking for when we can’t afford to buy food? He explained further.
Vishwanath is a veteran leader of the OBC, had previously belonged to the Congress party and served as the state chairman of the Janata Dal Secular (secular). In 2019, he had moved from JD(S) to BJP in order to support the BJP and BS Yediyurappa to form the government. He was denied a cabinet post because he lost a by-election, but was instead appointed to the council.
Vishwanath is also a Kannada writer and novelist, had left Congress after a disagreement with fellow OBC leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah while the party was in power from 2013 to 2018.