‘RSS will have a Brahmin CM’: Kumaraswamy barb sparks debate in Karnataka | Azad Times

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Azad Times News Desk.

Kumaraswamy’s comments were directed at BJP leader Prahlad Joshi and he referred to the Sringeri Mutt attack in the 1700s.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has stirred a controversy with his comment that the “RSS is planning to make a Brahmin candidate as the Chief Minister in the state". Though he sought to clarify his statements by stating that he had no objections to a Brahmin becoming the Chief Minister and that his comment was targeted against Union Minister for Mine, Coal and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi, it has set off intense debate in political circles with his rivals alleging that it was an attempt to divide voters on caste lines.

On February 6, speaking at a JD(S) rally in Dasarahalli in north Bengaluru, Kumaraswamy had claimed that the BJP was planning to make Prahlad Joshi the Chief Minister in the state if the party comes to power. "If BJP wins, the Sangh Parivar, which is the backbone of BJP, has decided to make Union Fertiliser Minister Pralhad Joshi, a descendant of the Maratha Peshwa community, chief minister. He is not like the Brahmins of our earlier times whom we used to revere," HD Kumaraswamy said.

The BJP has responded to HD Kumaraswamy’s statements by calling him a frustrated leader. “Kumaraswamy is feeling increasingly frustrated on account of the support that the BJP enjoys in the state. He is upset that the BJP will win more seats this time and that is why he is talking in this manner,” BJP MLA from Chikkamagaluru CT Ravi said.

When asked on February 7 about his comments, Kumaraswamy said, "The main reason for me to mention the name of Pralhad Joshi is not because he is a Brahmin. He belongs to a lineage, which has the DNA of the killer of Mahatma Gandhi and the ones who attacked Sringeri Mutt. Karnataka Brahmins are well cultured. I don't have any intention to fix the BJP party. I have intentions of not letting the people into a fix," Kumaraswamy said on Tuesday, February 7.

Kumaraswamy appears to be referring to some historical accounts of the attack by Maratha ruler Raghunath Rao Patwardhan on the Mysore district of Bednur in 1791 where they ransacked the Sringeri monastery. The monastery was founded a thousand years before by the father of Hindu Advaita philosophy Adi Shankaracharya and was patronised by various rulers who considered the place to be an important cultural centre.

The Sringeri mutt's own website states, "Over the succeeding centuries, a number of empires and rulers including the Mysore Maharajahs Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Peshwas and the Keladi rulers and Travancore Rajas were drawn towards the Peetham and respected the Acharya as their Guru."

The BJP has been cautious in not projecting a Chief Ministerial candidate in the run-up to the elections in Karnataka this year. When former Chief Minister Yediyurappa, who belongs to the dominant Lingayat community, stepped down in July 2021, the names of leaders backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) such as B.L. Santosh (a Brahmin and the BJP national general secretary), Prahlad Joshi (a Brahmin and Union Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs) were among those favored to replace him. The BJP ultimately decided to pick Basavaraj Bommai, another Lingayat leader as the Chief Minister in 2021.

Karnataka has only had two Chief Ministers from the Brahmin community - R Gundu Rao from 1980 to 1983 and Ramakrishna Hegde from 1983 to 1988. It is considered a political risk to be antagonising the Lingayat and Vokkaliga community by projecting a Brahmin candidate as the Chief Ministerial face in Karnataka. 

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