In a move seen as an attempt to reach out to the dominant Vokkaliga community, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Friday announced that a 'mammoth' statue of city's founder Kempegowda will be installed at the Bengaluru international airport, that is named after him.
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To make Kempegowda 'immortal', the government has also decided to reconstitute the Kempegowda Development Authority, and release Rs 100 crore to it, as per sources. "To make Bengaluru founder Kempegowda immortal, our government has decided to release Rs 100 crore. The BJP government has also decided to install a mammoth statue of Kempegowda at Bengaluru airport," Yediyurappa tweeted. According to reports, along with the statute, the government also plans to have the necessary infrastructure to showcase and provide information to tourists about the 'history and legacy' of Kempegowda.
Kempegowda, referred as 'Nadaprabhu', was a feudatory ruler under the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire who founded Bengaluru in 1537. He is revered by the Vokkaliga community that is dominant in Old Mysuru and other parts of southern Karnataka.
Yediyurappa government's move comes days after thousands of members of the Vokkaliga community, in a show of strength, held a protest rally in Bengaluru against the arrest of senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar and expressing solidarity with him. Some key Vokkaliga leaders also charged the NDA government with indulging in 'vendetta politics' and 'targetting' the community. The BJP is largely seen as a party backed by Lingayats, another dominant community, predominantly spread over northern parts of the state. Yediyurappa himself is a Lingayat.
DK Shivakumar was arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials on September 3 on a charge of non-cooperation after 6 days of questioning. He is the prime accused in an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) filed by ED on charges of money laundering and criminal conspiracy. According to some BJP leaders, efforts were also on by opposition outfits to project the Amit Shah-led party as 'anti-Vokkaliga' citing Shivakumar's arrest and its role in bringing down the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy. Kumaraswamy is a Vokkaliga, and the community forms the strong vote base for his party, the JDS.