Karnataka Minister Priyank Kharge on Thursday (7 December) expressed his firm belief that the portrait of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar should not be displayed in the state assembly.
Kharge communicated to reporters that individuals whose ideologies promote hatred and division have no place in the assembly. He further stated that if the BJP finds this problematic, the issue lies with them.
During the tenure of the previous BJP government, a life-size portrait of Savarkar was revealed in the Assembly chamber at the 'Suvarna Vidhana Soudha', accompanied by numerous national icons.
The Congress party had expressed criticism about this move, claiming they were not informed about it.
Rumors are currently circulating that the portrait may be taken down from the assembly chamber, following Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's statement that the decision will be made by the Speaker.
"The decision rests with the Speaker," stated Siddaramaiah on Monday, answering a query from journalists about whether Savarkar's portrait will be taken down, Hindustan Times reported.
The unveiling of Savarkar's portrait occurred just prior to the winter session of the state legislature last year, alongside the portraits of Swami Vivekananda, Subash Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Basaveshwara, Mahatma Gandhi, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
During the unveiling ceremony at 'Suvarna Vidhana Soudha', Siddaramaiah and his Congress party staged a protest against the perceived one-sided decisions of the then-ruling BJP government.
Siddaramaiah stated that the purpose of their demonstration was to demand the display of national leaders' and social reformers' portraits, emphasising that their protest was not targeted at any single portrait.
On Sunday, U T Khader, the Speaker, disclosed that talks are in progress about the idea of hanging a portrait of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister, in the Assembly chamber. This has sparked conjecture about what will happen to Savarkar's portrait.
Notably, the self-proclaimed Hindutva party, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) is an ally of Congress in Maharashtra, the ruling party of Karnataka. Despite calling Savarkar a hero and demanding Bharat Ratna for him, Shiv Sena (UBT) has not made any comments on Congress' demand for his portrait removal.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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