BJP once again raises bogey of ‘Pakistan zindabad’ slogan in Karnataka

Allegations against Opposition leaders and supporters of raising ‘Pakistan zindabad’ slogans have been proved false in the past. Will this time be different?

(From left) Rajya Sabha MPs G.C. Chandrasekhar, Ajay Maken and Syed Naseer Hussain (far right) with deputy CM DK Shivakumar (photo: @DKShivakumar/X)
(From left) Rajya Sabha MPs G.C. Chandrasekhar, Ajay Maken and Syed Naseer Hussain (far right) with deputy CM DK Shivakumar (photo: @DKShivakumar/X)

AJ Prabal

Bengaluru based fact-checker Md Zubair has waded into the ‘Pakistan zindabad (long live)’ slogan controversy, and listed 22 past instances when such claims by BJP leaders were proved false after verification by the police. He has backed the list up with details from across the country to show how slogans of ‘qazi sahib zindabad’, ‘Sabir sir zindabad’ or ‘Aziz saab zindabad’ were distorted to claim ‘Pakistan zindabad’ slogans had been raised.

While Karnataka Congress has denied the allegation that the ‘Pakistan zindabad’ slogan was raised on Tuesday outside the Vidhana Soudha, Congress leader and IT minister Priyank Kharge pointed out in an X post that had the Congress MP in question shouted ‘Pakistan zindabad’, those present at Vidhana Soudha would not have remained silent.

Had such a slogan indeed been raised, some people and at least journalists present would have reacted and protested, Kharge wrote in Kannada. Surely the patriotism of the journalists would have been aroused? But the crowd behaviour in the video does not change and nobody is seen reacting, he observed.

What is serious about the latest controversy triggered on Tuesday evening are the instant reactions of Union ministers condemning the Congress and Syed Naseer Hussain, elected to the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday for his second term as MP. Will the ministers tender an apology if forensic tests prove the allegation to be false?

Hussain, who was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2018, has an MPhil and a PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Alleging that one or two supporters of the Congress MP celebrated his victory by raising slogans of ‘Pakistan zindabad’, BJP Karnataka on Tuesday evening demanded an apology by chief minister Siddaramaiah, arrest of the culprits, and suspension of Hussain. On Wednesday, the party demanded the resignation of the chief minister for allegedly harbouring anti-India elements and the breakdown in law and order, besides demanding a probe by the NIA (National Investigation Agency).

State home minister Parameshwaran’s statement in the Assembly on Wednesday that Bengaluru city police had registered an FIR against unknown persons and multiple videos had been sent by the police for forensic tests failed to satisfy BJP members. The home minister also informed the Assembly that if the tests proved such a slogan had been raised, the state government would not hesitate to take stern action.

In a video statement on Wednesday, Hussain said he, too, had lodged an FIR and demanded an inquiry to find out whether there was any mischief, and whether doctored videos had been shared on social media and by TV channels. He denied having heard any controversial slogan until he left for home after thanking his supporters.

Union ministers Rajeev Chandrashekhar and Prahlad Joshi, among other ministers and BJP MPs from Karnataka have, however, escalated the controversy. Both chose to issue statements condemning the Congress without waiting for the results of the ongoing inquiry and forensic tests.

Chandrashekhar told news agency PTI that the footage had aired on several TV channels and one or two persons could be heard raising the slogan. He also claimed that one of them could be seen putting his hand on the mouth of the other and pushing him away. Had there been no truth in the allegation, he asked, why would the police file an FIR? He also alleged that Kannada journalists had asked Hussain on Wednesday about the controversy but he had shouted at them without responding to the questions.

"It tells how low the appeasement politics of Congress has reached. At the same time, the leader of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, is going around, trying to fool people about this Bharat Jodo (Nyay) Yatra. This is the party that signs MoUs with China, this is the party that invites people who are separatists to conferences in Bengaluru," the Union minister told PTI.

The Hindu reported that the audios available of the celebratory slogans were not clear but Congress workers were raising several slogans, including ‘Naseer saab zindabad’, ‘DK Shivakumar zindabad’, and ‘Siddaramaiah zindabad’.

Zubair claimed that at least five media persons present at the spot on Tuesday evening had denied having heard the ‘Pakistan zindabad’ slogan. 

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