Sanjay Patil, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and the party’s MLA from Karnataka’s Belagavi constituency, has been booked by the police for a “hate speech” he allegedly made while addressing his constituency.
A video of the hate speech, where Patil is heard saying the upcoming Assembly election in the state will be about Hindus and Muslims, went viral on social media earlier this week. However, it is not known when and where the speech was made.
“This election is not about road, drainage or drinking water. This election is about Hindu and Muslim religions,” he was heard saying in the video, amid loud cheers by a crowd of his supporters.
“Keeping a hand on my chest, I say loudly, ‘This is Bharat, this is the country of Hindus, and this is the country where (Lord) Ram was born.’ We are prepared to do anything to construct Ram Temple in Ayodhya,” Patil purportedly said in the footage.
With the crowd lapping up every word he was saying, he added that the Congress favoured constructing a mosque in Ayodhya instead of a Ram Temple. “(Those) who want to construct Babri Masjid, who want to celebrate Tipu Sultan’s jayanti, let them vote for Congress,” he said.
“If you want Shivaji Maharaj, if you want Sambhaji Maharaj, if you want those who offer pooja at Lakshmi temple, you will have to vote for BJP,” he added.
Belagavi (formerly known as Belgaum) is on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border, and is a communally sensitive area with a significant presence of Muslims and Marathi-speaking Hindus. Karnataka will have one-phase election on 12 May, and results will be announced on 15 May.
Patil, the sitting MLA, is pitted against Laxmi Hebbalkar, the Karnataka Mahila Congress chief.
The BJP is yet to make a public statement about the incident, but media reports said the Congress is likely to seek Patil’s disqualification for the remarks. A report on India Today said the Congress lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, which is probing the issue further.
With inputs from PTI