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Karnataka MP for ‘watch’ on Kerala visitors

Migrants from Kerala need to be watched for various reasons, not just the coronavirus: Karandlaje

Our Special Correspondent Bangalore Published 09.02.20, 08:45 PM
Shobha Karandlaje

Shobha Karandlaje Sourced by Correspondent

Senior BJP leader and member of Parliament Shobha Karandlaje has asked authorities in Karnataka to keep tabs on people from neighbouring Kerala, saying they needed to be watched for “various reasons and not just the coronavirus”.

The MP, known to make controversial comments, is considered to be a close associate of chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa.


“Migrants from Kerala need to be watched for various reasons, not just the coronavirus,” Karandlaje told reporters in Chikmagalur on Saturday.

Karandlaje represents Udupi-Chikmagalur in the Lok Sabha.

Three persons who recently returned to Kerala from China have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that has claimed over 800 lives, but the threat from the disease didn’t appear to be her primary concern.

“Who are coming, who are bringing them, why are they coming, why so many Kerala vehicles are coming here,” Karandlaje said, although the two neighbouring states have a long history of shared cultural, linguistic and even familial ties.

“Is migrating their only aim or are there any other motives?” she said, openly casting aspersions at Malayalis travelling to Karnataka.

“We have seen what people from Kerala did in Mangalore,” she added, referring to the December 20 violence when protesters against the new citizenship matrix had clashed with police in the coastal town.

BJP leaders had accused Muslims from Kerala of triggering the violence after two local people died in police firing, although subsequent investigations have not been able to prove the allegation.

Karandlaje said she had asked district authorities, police and regional transport officials to keep watch on Malayali visitors. “I have told the DC (deputy commissioner) and the RTO (regional transport officer) to check all the buses coming from Kerala. Several people have complained to me that they (Malayalis) come here and reside at homestays,” she said.

The MP had earlier courted controversy when she tweeted that Hindus in Kuttipuram in Malappuram in the neighbouring state were denied drinking water as they had refused to participate in protests against the new citizenship regime. Kuttipuram police had booked her for incitement to violence.

No BJP spokesperson could be reached for comment on their party MP’s latest comments.

The Karnataka Congress slammed Karandlaje and the BJP, accusing them of trying to divert people’s attention from the failure of the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state.

“Her latest allegations are part of the BJP’s larger plan to divert people’s attention by making baseless and wild allegations,” Congress spokesperson V.S. Ugrappa told The Telegraph.

“Her allegation is also a serious infringement of Article 19 of the Constitution that allows the fundamental right to all Indians to move to any place of their choice,” Ugrappa, a senior lawyer, said.

Ugrappa also questioned her decision to go public with her comments. “Any illegal or anti-social behaviour being a police matter, she should have told her party’s government before coming to the media,” the spokesperson said.

In Left-ruled Kerala, a CPM leader said Karandlaje’s allegations were both “sad” and “bizarre” as people of the two states had so much in common. “It is sad that an MP is making such bizarre allegations without realising people from these two states have so much in common. People in Kasargod have familial ties in Mangalore,” Kasaragod CPM secretary M.V. Balakrishnan told this newspaper.

“Our ties with Karnataka cannot be explained. Thousands travel between the two states for various reasons, including pilgrimage. Even Yediyurappa goes quite often to a temple in Kannur,” he said, possibly alluding to the Rajarajeshwari Temple.

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