According to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) chief ministerial candidate, BS Yeddyurappa, his remarks yesterday at a rally where he instructed party workers to tie-up hands of the non-voters and bring them in to vote for the BJP was actually pep talk and not to be taken literally.
It was meant to energize his supporters to ensure that people who are likely to back the party come out to vote. But, by saying thus, Yeddyurappa has walked unwillingly into a political row. The Congress has called the statement undemocratic and called out to the BJP to explain the somewhat tough-sounding statement.
At an election meeting yesterday at Belagavi, Mr Yeddyurappa said in Kannada: “If you think that somebody isn’t voting, go to their homes, tie up their hands and legs and bring them to vote in favour of Mahantesh Doddagoudar (the BJP candidate from Kittur).”
The Congress’s media in-charge, Randeep Singh Surjewala, promptly took on Yeddyurappa for his choice of words. The Congress suggested frustration of “the defeatist BJP facing rejection” at the hands of Kannadigas behind the controversial statement.
“Mr Yeddyurappa, insulting democracy and intimidating voters will trounce the BJP decisively,” Surjewala tweeted.
Mr Yeddyurappa later tweeted, again in Kannada. He later clarified that his remarks had been misunderstood. Repeating the phrase, he clarified that it means ‘holding’ people’s legs and hands to compel them to vote.
“I belong to a farmer-village background. This is how we villagers speak. It is not apparent to some people,” he said, responding to a tweet in English from the Karnataka Congress that counted his statement as a threat.
The controversy came on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi put up a strong defence for the party’s chief ministerial face. He attacked the Congress for using foul language against the Karnataka leader and leveling baseless allegations. “Yeddyurappa Ji visited homes of poor and Congress mocked that too. This is an insult to the poor and cannot be tolerated,” PM Modi said at a rally.