Congress on Friday backtracked on its poll manifesto promise of imposing a 'ban on Bajrang Dal'. In an exclusive conversation with Republic, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the party did not use the term 'ban' in its manifesto. He also claimed that Bajrang Dal is linked to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
"We haven't said it (on banning Bajrang Dal). We said that the outfit which is spreading hatred among the people and outfit which is creating violence in the society and is responsible for the breach of peace in society, only in such circumstances, we will abolish organisations like PFI, SDPI and Bajrang Dal. If they indulge in anti-society activities then we will think of abolishing them. Without evidence no organisation can be abolished," Siddaramaiah said.
He added, "The BJP people are creating hatred in the society. Bajrang Dal is one of the organs of the RSS, BJP. It also comes under Sangh Parivar. Not only Bajrang Dal, any organisation, whether it is a Muslim or Hindu organisation, we will take action."
In its poll manifesto for Karnataka elections, Congress said it committed to taking firm and decisive action against outfits and individuals such as the PFI and the Bajrang Dal which are "spreading hatred" among communities on grounds of caste and religion. The action will include a "ban" on such outfits, the party promised.
In reaction, the Bajrang Dal and the BJP have been protesting against the Congress. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also urged voters to chant 'Jai Bajrangbali' while exercising their franchise.
Taking a step back, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily said there is no proposal to ban the Hindu nationalist outfit nor the state government has any power to impose such a ban.
"The state government doesn't have the power to ban PFI or Bajrang dal. DK Shivakumar will give clarity on the same. The proposal was never with us in the Centre or state. We have gone by the Supreme Court judgement to stop hate politics. Such promise may have been inserted because of the same. But I can tell as a leader that we have no proposal to ban Bajrang Dal," senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily said.