Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday alleged that the RSS was giving a communal colour to the coronavirus crisis in India by blaming the Tablighi Jamaat for the spread of the deadly virus, prompting a strong rebuttal from the BJP.
"Today they are doing politics alleging that it is spreading through Tablighi in India... Giving political colour to the issue is RSS' strategy. It is communal politics at play," Siddaramaiah, who is the Congress Legislature Party leader, said at a press conference.
Hitting out at the centre, he wanted to know who gave the permission for the Tablighi Jamat to hold the conference.
"...Wasn't that centre? In whose hands is the Delhi police? The event happened next to a police station. If you look at the permission given to Tablighi, it makes it clear that there is a conspiracy behind it," he said.
According to him, the first mistake was to give permission to the international conference and the second mistake was to allow it to continue when the coronavirus crisis had taken the shape of a pandemic.
Refuting Siddaramaiah's allegation, the state BJP spokesperson S Prakash told PTI: "Siddaramaiah should know that the Station House Officer of the police station where the Tablighi Jamaat congregation took place had called the organisers and directed them to wind up the event but they did not heed."
He said the government had asked those who attended the congregation to come for medical examination but many disappeared and did not turn up.
Speaking on the issue of migrant workers, Siddaramaiah slammed the centre for the poor handling of the coronavirus situation.
A religious congregation in Delhi of the Tablighi Jamaat in March in which thouands of people from India and abroad had participated had emerged as the biggest coronavirus hotsport.
Many of these people have tested positive for the virus.
The Congress leader alleged the government failed to act immediately when the virus was spreading across the globe.
Speaking about the migrant workers' issue, he claimed the centre did not release money from the PM-CARES fund to pay for the migrant workers stuck all over the country including the 5.5 lakh workers in Karnataka.
He said the PM-CARES has received Rs 35,000 crore including Rs 3,500 crore from Karnataka and the centre could have used the fund for the migrant workers instead of charging money from them.
"For 5.5 lakh workers, it may not cost more than Rs 55 crore. What disease are they suffering from (to fund the travel expenses)?" he asked.