Siddaramaiah clarifies amid raging controversy

The clarification comes after the BJP alleged that the Congress leader had hurt religious sentiments by consuming non-vegetarian food before visiting the Basaveshwara temple in Kodlipet

‘Did not eat meat the day I visited temple’: Siddaramaiah clarifies amid raging controversy

File image of the leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly
Siddaramaiah. ANI

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Tuesday clarified that he did not eat meat before visiting the Basaveshwara temple in Kodlipet on 21 August. He also terming it a «non issue» and tried to assert the right to choice of food.

The clarification comes after the BJP alleged that the Congress leader had hurt religious sentiments by consuming non-vegetarian food before visiting a temple.

What is the controversy about?

Siddaramaiah, the leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, entered the Basaveshwara temple in Kodlipet, during his recent visit to Kodagu on 18 August, after allegedly having non-vegetarian food.

BJP take offense 

The BJP has accused the leader of hurting religious sentiments. “People will answer those who do not understand the feelings of Hindus about the temple. Why do the drama of going to temples only when elections are nearing”, asked Nalinkumar Kateel, BJP state president.

Hindustan Times reports, BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, suggested that local temple traditions should be followed if one wants to visit shrines, and thereby respect the feelings of the faithful.

“Siddaramaiah or anyone should not hurt the feelings of the faithful. If you (Siddaramaiah) have guts, eat pork and visit a mosque,” he challenged.

Accusing Siddaramaiah of trying to hurt sentiments of the people, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha, pointed to an earlier incident by alleging that as the then chief minister he had offered customary floral tributes to Goddess Chamundeshwari, the reigning deity of Mysuru, during the Dasara ‘jamboo savari’ procession, after eating non-veg food.

“He did this in 2017, I’m a witness to it…thereafter, he lost power and could not offer floral tributes from next year,” Simha said, as he addressed Siddaramaiah as ‘Siddu Sultan’ and accused him of appeasement politics.

State BJP vice president B Y Vijayendra, targeting Siddaramaiah, said people may have freedom to choose their food, but there is culture and tradition in the southern state and people here respect and follow certain religious practices.

“Those in big positions should not behave or make statements that hurt sentiments of people,” he said.

Siddaramaiah’s argument

Responding to Kateel, Siddaramaiah said, he visits temples, and believes in oneness of God and all Gods are one.

«I go to temples, but I have not made it alone my profession. I go to temples in my village…why should I go searching for God in Kashmir or some other place? I have many times been to Tirupati, Mahadeshwara hills, Chamundi hills, Nanjanagu temple. I go everywhere,» he said.

He added, “I had food at Sudarshan guest house at 2:30 pm and late in the evening, I visited a temple and performed pooja. Has god prescribed any specific food before visiting a temple? People consume meat at night and visit temples the next morning. Why shouldn’t I eat meat in the afternoon and visit the temple in the evening?»

«Is eating meat an issue? What one eats is a personal food habit. I eat both meat and vegetarian food, it is my habit. Some don’t eat meat, it’s their food habit.»

Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru on Tuesday, he said the BJP «doesn’t have any other work», and hence are trying to create controversies to divert public attention from «main issues».

«According to me it is not at all an issue. Many go without eating meat and many go after eating. At many places meat is offered to deities. To tell you the truth I had not eaten meat that day. I said what I have subsequently, for the sake of argument. Though there was chicken curry, I ate only bamboo shoot curry and ‘akki rotti’,» he added.

With input from agencies

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