New Delhi: Union minister Ananthkumar Hegde, who made headlines in December last year for his comments about the constitution, has once again managed to put his foot in his mouth by reportedly comparing Dalit protestors with dogs.
The minister was on his way to a job fair in Ballari, Karnataka on Saturday when a group of Dalit protestors blocked his convoy and raised slogans protesting his comments about secularism and changing the constitution. They also accused him of being anti-Dalit. Later at the fair, while mentioning the protests, Hegde said, “We are stubborn people. When dogs bark on the road, we don’t care.”
Hegde is minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship in the Narendra Modi government at the centre.
After the programme, the Dalit protestors staged a demonstration and, waving black scarves, shouted slogans against Hegde. Some persons were taken into custody by the police when they tried to block the minister’s convoy, The Hindu reported.
The minister later told news agency PTI that his remarks were misinterpreted. “I haven’t made any such remark against Dalits. The Congress is deliberately trying to damage my image by alluding the remark to Dalits,” said Hegde, claiming that his remark was actually made against the “so-called intellectuals” who were critical of his political stand on various issues.
Actor Prakash Raj, a household name in Karnataka and much of south India, and a vocal critic of Modi and the BJP’s policies, slammed the Union minister on Twitter.
Enough is enough.🙏🙏🙏..Serial offender…minister Ananthkumar Hegde at it again….he calls Dalits DOGs ..for protesting against his controversial constitution remark… supreme leaders of #bjp will you ask him to step down …or do you endorse his abuse #justasking
— Prakash Raj (@prakashraaj) January 20, 2018
He also demanded that senior BJP leaders ask Hedge to resign from his post.
A brief history of dogs and pups
Modi himself faced a lot of flak in 2013 for using a canine analogy while referring to the 2002 riot killings in Gujarat during his time as chief minister. When asked in an interview with Reuters whether he regretted the violence, he compared his feelings to the occupant of a car involved in an accident:
“…someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is. If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad,” he said.
Like Hegde, Modi, too, later claimed that there had been a “gross distortion” of his remark.
In October 2015, General V.K. Singh (retd.), minister of state for overseas Indians, triggered a controversy by downplaying the killing of two Dalit children and dragging dogs in to make the point that the central government ought not not to be blamed:
“If somebody throws a stone at a dog, then the government is responsible. It is not like that,” he said.
Serial offender Hegde
Speaking at an event in December 2017, Ananthkumar Hegde kicked up a row when he said: “A few people say the constitution mentions the word secular, so you have to agree. Because it’s there in the constitution, we will respect it, but this will change in the near future. The constitution has changed many times before. We are here and have come to change the constitution. We will change it.”
Also Read: Keep Me Out of ‘Shameful’ Tipu Jayanti Event, Union Minister Hegde Tells Karnataka Government
He went on to add, “There is a new culture now of secularists. If someone says I am a Muslim, or I am a Christian, or I am a Lingayat, or I am a Hindu, I feel very happy because he knows his roots. But these people who call themselves secularists, I don’t know what to call them. They are like people without parentage or who don’t know their bloodline. They don’t know themselves. They don’t know their parents, but they call themselves secular. If someone says I am secular, I get suspicious. I hope there are no secularists here.”
Hegde, a five-time BJP MP, was also caught on CCTV assaulting doctors at a private hospital in his hometown of Sirsi. According to an Indian Express report, the police had to file a suo motu case after the doctors and the hospital authorities refused to report the incident.
Also Read: Opposition Slams Hegde’s Remark on BJP Changing Constitution, Says It Reflects RSS’s Age-Old Agenda
In a separate incident, Hegde, who has been a member the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Moracha (ABVP), was also booked for hate speech for making derogatory remarks against Islam.
Hegde was quoted to have said “as long as there is Islam in this world, there will be terrorism” during a press conference.
His views on Ayodhya also fit the narrative the Sangh parivar and BJP have been promoting for years.
An AltNews.in report plunged into Hedge’s Twitter history when he became minister and concluded: “It is shocking that a person with so much apparent hate for various religions has been chosen to be a minister in a multi-cultural country like ours.”