- Ex-deputy chief minister KS Eshwarappa made the controversial remark
- "Congress uses you only as vote bank, doesn't give you ticket," he said
- He was addressing Kuruba and minority communities in Koppal
A senior BJP leader in Karnataka has made a controversial statement that could snowball into a political row days ahead of the national election that starts this month. KS Eshwarappa, who was the deputy chief minister of Karnataka when the BJP was in power, said his party will not field Muslim candidates in the state.
"Congress uses you only as vote bank, doesn't give you ticket. We won't give tickets to Muslims in Karnataka. Why? Because you don't believe in us. Believe us and we'll give you tickets and other things," Mr Eshwarapppa said in Kannada while addressing members of the Kuruba and minority communities in north Karnataka's Koppal.
Karnataka will vote for 14 seats on April 18, and the other 14 on April 23.
"A con job only works when the victim doesn't know they're being conned," Asaduddin Owaisi, who heads the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), said.
Mr Eshwarappa, 70, is a member of the the Kuruba backward caste. The leader has made controversial and sexist statements in the past.
In February last year, the politician had said Muslims who are with the Congress "are killers" while those linked with his party are "good Muslims" -- a remark that was rubbished by then chief minister Siddaramaiah.
"Muslims who killed 22 RSS and BJP activists are with the Congress and those who are good Muslims are with the BJP," Mr Eshwarappa had said in the backdrop of the alleged political violence in Karnataka.
In October 2015, he drew criticism when he asked a woman journalist what the opposition can do if "someone drags and rapes" her. Soon after, he went on attempted to clarify, saying that he sees "Karnataka women as my sisters".
Around the same time, Mr Eshwarappa landed in another controversy with a statement when he had asked if then chief minister Siddaramaiah and home minister KJ George will have "feelings" for survivors of sexual assault only if their daughters were "raped".
(With inputs from ANI)