Basavaraj Bommai, Siddaramaiah Twitter War Over Karnataka Moral Policing

In recent times, the Dakshina Kannada district has seen several cases of young people from differing faiths socialising being confronted, threatened or attacked by right-wing activists.

Basavaraj Bommai, Siddaramaiah Twitter War Over Karnataka Moral Policing

"We must have moral responsibility," Basavaraj Bommai said on vigilantes (File)


A bitter battle is being fought on Twitter between Karnataka's current and former Chief Ministers - Basavaraj Bommai and Siddaramaiah - with Siddaramaiah slamming Mr Bommai for his statement in Mangaluru that moral policing is "action and reaction" caused by "hurt sentiments". In recent weeks, the Dakshina Kannada district has seen several cases of young people from differing faiths socialising being confronted, threatened, or attacked by right-wing activists.

Basavaraj Bommai, asked about the moral policing in Mangaluru, had said, "It is a very delicate issue. We all have to take responsibility. There are so many feelings in society. We have to live in such a way that those sentiments are not hurt. When those feelings are hurt there will be action and reaction. Everyone should cooperate. Some young people take it upon themselves... they should not hurt the moral sentiments of society. It is a social issue. There should be morality in society. Can we live without morality? We must have moral responsibility.

The Chief Minister's remark was seen by critics as being soft on issues of moral policing and people taking the law into their own hands following several such instances in recent weeks.

"You have accepted your incapability to maintain law & order by justifying moral policing by few anti-social elements. Please resign & save Karnataka!! #MoralPolicing," Siddaramaiah had said in a series of tweets, tagging the Chief Minister.

"Innocent Women are being targeted in the name of Moral policing. The government is trying to protect anti-social elements instead of putting them behind bars. Appeasing RSS may be necessary to save your position, but you should not stoop to this low, Mr Bommai #MoralPolicing," he further wrote.

 "Whenever women are subjected to moral policing henceforth, can the people of Karnataka assume that you are the true reason for the crime? It is more criminal to encourage & incite violence, and protect the perpetrators. Do you have any plans to dissolve the police department, and handover the law & order to RSS? Or are you planning to establish Jungle Raj? #MoralPolicing"

The Chief Minister was quick to rebut. "Jungle Raj was when you were blind, deaf and dumb to the killings of Hindus under your tenure, in my administration, it's the law which takes the action while in yours it was jungle raj hence Hindus were killed on supari and many riots took place. While you were the CM, you became the icon of anti-Hindus by getting Hindu activists killed as Tippu Sultan did in his regime, I need not learn administration or policing from you, we have an able police force to tackle the law and order which was sitting Ducks under your government," he tweeted back.

"I never expected such loose comments from you, Mr Bommai, that too as the Chief Minister of Karnataka. In a desperate attempt to please your RSS masters, you're deviating from facts & logic," the former Chief Minister shot back, citing several cases of murder under the previous governments.  

In today's series of tweets, Siddaramaiah told Mr Bommai he may be emotionally bankrupt like anti-social elements and may continue to light communal fires for political gains," but true Hindus are intelligent enough to see through your act of treason..."

On October 9, an alleged right-wing group stopped a car in Mangalore and abused the driver and the three women travelling with him. The car owner, a Muslim, was travelling with his wife and her two Hindu friends. The Chief Minister had then justified incidents of moral policing as mere reactions to social situations and not illegal vigilantism. However, his reactions were quite the opposite when on September 17, two Muslim men beat up a Hindu man for accompanying a Muslim woman colleague home from work. "My government deals with such incidents with an iron hand," Mr Bommai had said after the suspects within 24 hours.

The BJP came to power in Karnataka in July 2019 after the collapse of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government. Basavaraj Bommai took over from his predecessor BS Yediyurappa in July.