Media usually describe Anantkumar Hegde as ‘Karnataka’s own Yogi Adityanath’.
The 49-year old hardline Hindutwa campaigner who spits venom was inducted into the cabinet by Narendra Modi in September during a cabinet reshuffle. He was appointed Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. Hedge was entrusted with the portfolio not because he was capable of contributing to the welfare of the nation through development of the skills of youth. But it was a move foreseeing the assembly elections in Karnataka due in early 2018. It is BJP itself which best knows that they cannot face an election citing any development agenda. Therefore they plan to position a messenger of hate like Hegde in the forefront in order to face the election and hence his appointment as the Union Minister. Hedge is one who had already been charged in many cases for carrying out communal activities. He was accused of crimes such as inciting communal riot in Bhatkal in 1993, igniting clashes and murder. He was also complicit in the cases of defying the ban and hoisting the national flag in Hubballi’s Eid Gah Maidan in 1994. It was in March 2016 that he remarked that ‘as long as there is Islam in this world, there will be terrorism’. He was accused in that case as well. The Union Minister is an accused in almost a dozen cases of communal nature. Another case was registered against Hegde for assaulting a doctor in Sirsi in January. One would naturally wonder how a person implicated in a number of criminal cases could be given the post of a Union Minister. However, from the viewpoint of BJP-RSS, all these cases would only be considered as his merits.
The reason why Anantkumar Hegde is now in the news is his remarks at a function organized by the Brahmana Yuva Parishat at Kukkanur, Karnataka on December 24. His comments ridiculed secularists and glorified the concept of ‘purity of blood’. Hegde also demanded a change in the Constitution. He said that the ‘Constitution needs to be changed from time to time and we have come for that’. It was his scornful comments on secularism that were more dangerous and more in sync with the RSS concept of racial purity. "I would feel happy if someone claims with pride that he is a Muslim, or a Christian, or a Lingayat, or a Brahmin, or a Hindu. I feel happy because he (the person) knows about his blood, but I don't know what to call those who claim themselves secular. Those who, without knowing about their parental blood, call themselves secular, they don't have their own identity... They don't know about their parentage, but they are intellectuals," so goes Hegde’s remarks. It should be particularly noted that Hegde made his comments during a program organized by Brahmana Yuva Parishat, a casteist organization who are the biggest campaigners of the concept of purity of blood.
His remarks naturally, drew much flak. The matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha and also led to the stalling of the session. Progressive thinkers and democrats of the country have come out against Hegde’s comments. According to them, when a person who assumes office as a Minister swearing by the Constitution, denounces the Constitution and the value of secularism enshrined in it, he is unfit for the position as a Union Minister. But neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor Hegde has so far been ready to react on the matter. It is only a truth that Hegde has only shared a concept that Modi as well as the BJP leadership has been harbouring deep inside, despite rejecting it overtly.
It is not for the first time that such provocative speeches and pronouncements have come from union ministers which make a mockery of constitutional values, and create social tensions. In fact some had made even worse remarks earlier, which were also accompanied by much debate and hullabaloo. In some of those cases, there were mild apologies. Still such pronouncements continue. The truth is that those who entertain the Sangh Parivar stream of thought are unable to permanently suppress them, and they spontaneously spew them out as it has happened in the case of Hegde. In other words, regardless of whether the minister apologizes or not, such statements will keep coming because those are the ideas they hold within. Ultimately a steady popular campaign against those concepts alone can pave the path for democrats of the country.