Rahul Gandhi has been actively campaigning for his party in Karnataka for the forthcoming assembly elections in the state. He has been deploying the strategy of ‘Soft Hindutva’ in public and minority appeasement in private. In Karnataka, the Congress president seems to have taken a further leap by trying to appeal to the linguistic identity of Kannada speaking people.
During a recent speech in Athani, the Congress president tried to quote the 12th century social reformer Basavanna in his speech. The Congress president tried to recite a part of this Basava Vachana (Basavanna’s sayings/teachings).
Basava Vachana in Kannada
ಇವನಾರವ ಇವನಾರವ ಇವನಾರವ ಎಂದೆನಿಸದಿರಯ್ಯಾ
ಇವ ನಮ್ಮವ, ಇವ ನಮ್ಮವ, ಇವ ನಮ್ಮವನೆಂದೆನಿಸಯ್ಯಾ.
ಕೂಡಲಸಂಗಮದೇವಾ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯ ಮಗನೆಂದೆನಿಸಯ್ಯಾ
Ivanaarava, ivanaarava, ivanaarava endenisadirayya
Iva nammava, iva nammava, iva nammavanendenisayya
Koodalasangamadevaa nimma maneya maganendenisayya.
Oh Lord, please do not say ‘whose is he, whose is he, whose is he?’
Please say ‘he is ours, he is ours, he is ours!’
Oh Lord Kudalasangama, consider me a son of your own house!
These verses capture the essence of Basavanna’s ideology and the movement against caste, class and gender discrimination during his time. The social reformer sought to abolish these social evils in Karnataka centuries before the idea was championed by Ambedkar. Recognising the stature of Basavanna, PM Modi had unveiled a bust of Basavanna in London during his official tour to the United Kingdom in 2015.
Rahul Gandhi didn’t even try to recite the whole Vachana. He restricted himself to the easiest words in it i.e. ‘ivanArava ivanArava ivanArava ; iva nammava, iva nammava, iva nammava’ and still managed to reduce it to utter meaningless gibberish. It was sounding so bad that no Kannadiga could have recognised it as a Basava Vachana.
Siddaramaiah claims himself to be a politician who is committed to the cause of Kannada language. He had also questioned ‘Won’t you learn Kannada?’ to the BJP president Amit Shah when he visited Karnataka in 2017.
ಕನ್ನಡ ಕಲಿಯೋದಿಲ್ವಾ @AmitShah ರವರೆ?
Won’t you learn Kannada? https://t.co/rxTA08E3RC
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) November 21, 2017
During his tenure, he has encouraged staunch Kannada chauvinists who have been ‘anti-Hindi imposition’. These activisits did not hesitate to blacken the Hindi signboards of Namma Metro stations in Bengaluru. However, his party president’s pathetic attempt to read out simple words came across as an insult to every Kannada speaker who loves the language. Before asking the BJP president to learn Kannada, he must teach the language to his party’s president.
After working one full year to separate Lingayats from Hinduism, this was the last thing Congressis should have done.
— Kiran Kumar S (@KiranKS) February 24, 2018
It is not difficult to pronounce Kannada words. Someone who doesn’t know the language can easily read out a transliterated text with a bit of practice and effort. It appears, that the dynastic scion was not ready to put in some effort to read verses that are revered by the followers of Basavanna.
While Narendra Modi has incorporated thoughts of Basavanna in his slogan ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’, the Congress party has sought to divide people on Caste and religious lines time and again. The Lingayat stir being revived also has unmistakable footprints of the Congress. In Gujarat, it tried to divide the society on the line of Patidars, OBCs and Dalits.
In Karnataka as well, the Congress-led Siddaramaiah is working overtime to divide the people by encouraging events like Tipu Jayanthi and demands for a separate religion status for Lingayat community in the states. Lingayats are followers of the Saint Basavanna who sought to remove casteism among Hindus.
The Congress party led by Rahul Gandhi has made a mockery of Basavanna’s thoughts in their speech as well as deeds. And therefore, the more they pretend to emulate him, their hypocrisy will come to the forefront more blatantly before the electorate in Karnataka.