HOSPET/CHITRADURGA (KARNATAKA): Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and BJP strongman B S Yediyurappa had breakfast at the residence of a Dalit man at a village near Hospet on Wednesday. They visited the village as part of the ruling BJP's 'Jan Sankalp Yatra', which kick-started on Tuesday. Hirala Kollarappa and his two daughters served the VVIPs 'Kesari Bhaat,' (dessert) 'Mandakki Voggarane' (fried puffed rice with seasoning), fried chilli and Uppittu (Upma).
According to government officials, the CM was accompanied by Yediyurappa, Water Resource Minister Govind Karjol and Tourism Minister Anand Singh during the visit to Ambedkar Nagar in Kamalapura village in the newly formed Vijayanagara district.
"A festive mood prevailed at the residence of Hirala Kollarappa in Ambedkar Nagar in Kamalapura village. His two daughters, Huligemma and Renuka were busy in the kitchen since morning preparing a special breakfast for none other than 'Common Man' Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday," an official statement said.
After having meal at Kollarappa's home, the BJP leaders interacted with all the family members. Meanwhile, the Congress described Bommai and Yediyurappa eating at the Dalit family's residence as a "photo-op" for the sake of votes, ahead of assembly election next year in the state. While Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah hit out at the ruling party for not doing enough for the sake of Dalits and other backward communities so far, AICC General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka Randeep Singh Surjewala took a swipe at Bommai government by highlighting an incident where over a dozen Dalit workers were allegedly assaulted and held captive by a coffee estate owner in Chikkamagaluru over financial issues.
"As elections are approaching, they have started remembering Dalits, backward classes, SCs and STs, till now nothing has been done for their welfare by this government. Now for the sake of election and votes, they are visiting areas where Dalits and backward communities live," Siddaramaiah, who is here to take part in 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' led by Rahul Gandhi, told reporters in response to a query.
Surjewala in a tweet said, "The ugly stench of Dalit atrocities under Bommai Govt in Karnataka is nauseating - a 54% increase over last year. As Bommai-BSY (Yediyurappa) do photo-op of visiting a dalit house, BJP leader detains 16 Dalits & a hapless women loses her child." Reacting to the criticism, BJP state unit chief Nalin Kumar Kateel said Siddaramaiah has started the AHINDA movement, which instilled confidence among the backward communities and minorities. In 2014 state assembly election, the Congress gained majority and Siddaramaiah remained the Chief Minister for 5 years but 'failed' to provide justice to the minorities and BC, he told reporters in Gadag district. It is only the Bommai government which gave the SC/STs honour, whereas the Siddaramaiah did nothing in five years," Kateel added.