For the BJP, an eruption of violence in Bengaluru on Tuesday, with mobs torching two police stations and injuring over 50 policemen, has come in handy to discredit the opposition on an issue of its choice.
The opposition in Karnataka – the Congress – demanded punishment against the perpetrators of violence and the person who posted derogatory material even as the ruling BJP began preparing to milk the incident for its overall political benefit, even though the benefits may not seem to accrue in the immediate future.
Hinting at police failure, Congress leaders demanded strict action against the person who made the derogatory post on social media. KPCC President DK Shivakumar also wanted action against all who indulged in rioting and arson.
“The police have not only failed to protect the Congress MLA, whose house was set on fire, but also a police station,” said Shivakumar in a tweet.
He announced the formation of a fact-finding team to go into the reasons for the violence that seemed to have erupted suddenly.
Another leader demanded that a probe must be initiated into the police failure in handling the situation and the failure of intelligence, if any.
“But why is it that the police seem to be acting under pressure in most of the states ruled by the BJP, when it acts relatively professionally in non-BJP ruled states,” questioned former JD (S) leader and BSP MP Danish Ali. “Why was there a delay in taking action by police,” he questioned, adding that in BJP-ruled Karnataka, police may have acted differently had the complaint been against a derogatory post of some other nature.
What the BJP also gains out of these incidents is that they help in deflecting attention away from burning issues of hunger, jobs, COVID-19, and debates will be focused on divisive issues, Danish Ali pointed out. So, this issue would suit the BJP.
But there are no elections in Karnataka. How does it help the BJP?
Prof PS Jayaramu, political analyst, says it is not necessary to have elections to gain politically. “Every opportunity you get to discredit the enemy is welcome, so that one can go hammer and tongs against the opposition, and the BJP will surely cash in on this,” he said.
Clearly, the Benguluru violence has given the BJP such a chance, when it began questioning the Congress for its meek response to the violence and rubbished it for its refusal to condemn violence by minorities.
Right from BJP national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao to its local Karnataka leaders questioned the Congress for ‘ignoring the plight of its own MLA’.
State tourism minister CT Ravi was convinced that the riot was planned. “Petrol bombs & stones were used in destruction of property. Over 300 vehicles were burnt. We have suspects but can only confirm after investigation,” he said.
BJP MP Tejasvi Surya joined the tourism minister in asking Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa to recover the costs of damage from the rioters, like it was done in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel spoke of a “systematic conspiracy” behind the violence, and said organisations like Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) were involved in it. The BJP leaders demanded a ban on SDPI.
BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje, who visited Pulikeshinagar, said in a tweet, 'PFI-SDPI conspired this violence, they targeted only Hindu houses & burnt public properties’.
Police firing on Tuesday night to quell rampaging mob in Bengaluru’s Devarajeevanahalli (DJ Halli) and Kadugodanahalli (KG Halli) led to the killing of three persons.
Over 100 rioters who set fire to police station, police vehicles and the residence of local Congress MLA from Pulakeshinagar R Akhanda
Srinivasamurty have been taken into custody. Over 50 policemen have been injured in the attacks.
It all began with an alleged inflammatory Facebook post about Prophet Mohammad shared by P Naveen, a nephew of Congress MLA Srinivasamurthy, that angered the largely minority population that dominates the two lower middle-class residential colonies, located some 6 km from Vidhansoudha. The angry residents first went to the local police station to lodge a complaint, but there was an apparent delay in registration of the complaint.
The crowd soon became restless, surrounded the police station, and began attacking the police personnel and setting fire to police vehicles. The angry rioters were demanding action against Naveen, who is said to have shared the inflammatory post. He, meanwhile, claimed that his account was hacked.
Pulakeshinagar Corporator AR Zakir, who belongs to the Congress, told media persons that trouble began at 5 p.m. on Tuesday itself when some locals went to DJ Halli police station to file a complaint. According to him, delay by the police in responding to the complaint angered the residents.
The BJP leaders on the other hand charged that the violence and riot was pre-planned and demanded a ban on PFI-SDPI that are seen to be behind the ghastly incident.