Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Sanjay Patil has landed in legal trouble for making an alleged provocative speech during the Karnataka Assembly election campaign in Belgaum (Rural) Belagavi constituency on Thursday. An FIR has been registered against Patil on charges of delivering a provocative speech in which he allegedly said that Karnataka Assembly elections were "not about roads, water or other issues, and instead they were about Hindus vs Muslims".
"This election is an important one. This election is not about roads or gutters or drinking water. This is about Hindus against Muslims. Whoever wants to build a Babri Masjid, whoever wants to celebrate Tipu Sultan Jayanti, let them go to the Congress. If you want Shivaji Maharaj, if you want Shambaji Maharaj, if you want the temple to be built, you vote for the BJP," Patil can be heard saying in a video clip while addressing a small election rally in his constituency Belgaum (Rural) Belagavi.
The video clip also shows his saying, "I will thump my chest and say loudly that is Bharat desha, a Hindu country, the country where Ram was born. I want the Ram temple to be built and Ayodhya and I will do whatever is needed for that. If Lakshmi Hebbalkar (Congress candidate from Belagavi) says she will build the Ram temple, all of you go and giver her your vote. But she won't do it. She will build a mosque, a Babri Masjid."
Patil had won the Belgaum (Rural) seat in the 2013 Karnataka Assembly elections defeating independent candidate Kinekar Manohar Kallappa in a close contest, Congress candidate Lakshmi Hebbalkar had finished third. While Patil had received 38,322 votes, Kallappa got 36,987 votes. Hebbalkar ended with 35,753 votes.
Karnataka will vote on May 12 to elect a new Assembly. The counting of votes will take place on May 15 and the results will be declared on the same date. Karnataka Assembly has 225 seats but voting takes place for 224 as one seat in reserved for the Anglo-Indian community and the representative is nominated by the Karnataka governor.
The BJP and Congress are locked in a bitter battle with the Janata Dal Secular of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda also in the fray. Congress has won the 2013 elections securing 122 seats while the BJP and JDS were tied up at the second spot with 40 seats each. Karnataka is the only state in South India where BJP has tasted power when the party won in the 2008 Assembly elections.