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Boot on other foot: Muthalik sheds tears

Muthalik in Hubli on Monday. (PTI)

Bangalore, March 24: The Hindutva hawk whose moral cops dragged young women out of pubs and beat them cried tears in public today, not in remorse but over the “humiliation” by the BJP yesterday.

“I chose a life of service to society and the nation, placing ideology over family — yet the BJP did this to me,” Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik, 51, wailed at a news conference in Hubli, 370km from here.

“I have no bank balance, no land, no house; I could not attend my father’s funeral or brother’s wedding and have not been able to pay attention to my ailing mother,” Muthalik said, outlining how he had neglected his family and personal life in the pursuit of his calling.

“I have led a clean life. I don’t know why you (the BJP) are treating me like this. What mistake have I committed?” he added, referring to how the BJP had recruited him yesterday only to drop him like a hot brick within five hours.

Seeing his sobs of self-pity, it was difficult to believe that this was the “hardliner” who talked tough against “western culture” and ordered his fanatical vigilantes to vandalise churches and attack romantic couples.

Now on the back foot, Muthalik said he regretted the pub attacks on women in Mangalore five years ago but in the same breath termed them “a small incident compared to all the rapes in the country”.

The Karnataka BJP had yesterday welcomed the former Bajrang Dal activist into the party, setting off an outcry even among pro-BJP Twitterati. Sensing the mood, the central leadership revoked the step and claimed it had been in the dark about Muthalik’s induction.

“The BJP leaders were misguided by some external forces in sacking me,” claimed Muthalik, who faces several criminal cases for the Sene’s hooliganism in Mangalore district.

“I’ll take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time,” he added in what seemed an implied threat to the BJP.

State BJP president Prahlad Joshi had inducted Muthalik to prevent a split in the party’s vote bank after the Sene chief threatened to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Joshi’s constituency of Hubli-Dharwad.

After the move was nixed, Joshi had spoken to a livid Muthalik for over five hours last night, trying to pacify him. Sources said Joshi had pleaded with him not to attack the BJP or divide its votes.

Muthalik today gave no indication whether he would go ahead with his earlier plan to contest as an Independent from Hubli-Dharwad.

Party sources said that several senior state leaders too had been against admitting a man like Muthalik into the party.

Although the state’s former BJP government had treated the Sene’s misdeeds with soft hands, many leaders believe he should be shunned, especially at a time the party has hitched its stars to Narendra Modi’s development plank.

If the central leadership’s move yesterday was a slap in his face, Joshi faced further embarrassment today when someone hurled a shoe at him as he campaigned in Dharwad.

The shoe missed him but apparently hit one of his associates. The police are yet to identify the attacker.

Cong red-faced

The Congress’s Mangalore unit today reportedly took under its fold Dinker Shetty of the Sri Ram Sene in the presence of senior party leader Janardhana Poojary.

However, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara said he was unaware of the recruitment and that Shetty’s induction had not been authorised.