Mysuru/Bengaluru: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the 108-feet tall statue of Nadaprabhu Kempegowda in Bengaluru yesterday, the Opposition, particularly JD(S) and current BJP MLC A.H. Vishwanath accused the State Government of turning the unveiling of a statue of the 16th-century founder of Bengaluru, Kempegowda, into a party event.
In a series of messages on social media, the JD(S) criticised the BJP for not inviting former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda to the event despite the Party President’s contributions to the city. At a press conference in Mysuru, Vishwanath said that it was a Government event which turned into a party event and the developments were unfortunate.
“The money used to make and unveil the statue is public money and the BJP has not paid for it. The Government should have invited Deve Gowda, former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy, Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and others,” Vishwanath said.
“By not involving prominent Vokkaliga leaders and the former leaders of Karnataka who had honoured Kempegowda, the State Government has snatched away the right of the community to celebrate the event,” Vishwanath charged.
The JD(S) called it an insult to all Kannadigas and said that the saffron party ignored the former PM for political reasons. Taking to the official Twitter handle of the party, JD(S) said, “It is an insult to all Kannadigas that the State BJP Government did not invite H.D. Deve Gowda, who contributed greatly to the development of Bangalore after Nadaprabhu Kempegowda. He was the only Kannadiga who became the Prime Minister.”
“The BJP Government, which invited the former PM to the function of laying the foundation stone for the installation of the statue of Nadaprabhu, did not invite them to the dedication ceremony of the statue, why?” the party questioned.
The JD(S) also said that Kempegowda was not the BJP’s personal property and that the party should have involved all parties and leaders in the unveiling of his statue. It pointed out with pictures that the BJP invited Gowda (and Vokkaliga leaders of other parties) when the foundation stone for the statue was laid in 2020 but failed to invite the Vokkaliga patriarch for the unveiling of the statue.
Deve Gowda, Siddharamaiah were invited, clarifies CMO
Responding to the criticism, the BJP released a letter saying that H.D. Deve Gowda was invited for the event. Officials from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said Deve Gowda’s name was printed on the invitation card of the event and a formal invitation was sent to him. All former CMs, including Siddharamaiah, Veerappa Moily and S.M. Krishna, were among the invitees.
In fact, the former PM was the first to be invited. Deve Gowda received the letter from the CMO late Thursday evening and later, CM Basavaraj Bommai personally called him and invited him, the CMO clarified. The CM even called former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy but his phone was not accessible. Bommai also called Siddharamaiah who said he was busy with party engagements.
“Invitations were extended as per protocol. The JD(S) complaining shows the opportunistic politics practised by the party while the BJP practices ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas,” said the BJP.
However, Kumaraswamy hit back at this and said, “There is a protocol to invite someone of the stature of a former PM.” JD(S) leaders also said if the invitation had been sent, why was no seat marked in his name. Kumaraswamy said, “Why was Gowda, a sitting Rajya Sabha member, not there? It is a grave dishonour.’’
“I was invited but couldn’t attend because of other engagements,” said Siddharamaiah in the meantime. KPCC President D.K. Shivakumar, another Vokkaliga leader, said he was invited to foundation laying ceremony in 2020 when B.S. Yediyurappa was the CM but did not get an invitation this time.