Bengaluru, Feb 19: Union minister Anantkumar Hegde is controversy's favourite child, literally. It is not that controversies chase the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Parliament (MP) from Uttara Kannada constituency in Karnataka.
Rather it is the other way round, as the cabinet minister in the Narendra Modi government loves to court controversies by making contentious statements every now and then.
After stating that the BJP government at the Centre is planning to remove the word "secular" from the Constitution, the Union minister of skill development and entrepreneurship has courted controversy over his comments on Kannada.
Recently at a function hosted at a polytechnic college in Dakshina Kannada district's Puttur, the motormouth minister known for his polarising comments against minorities stated that only those from Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Shivamogga speak chaste Kannada. According to the minister others don't speak Kannada at all.
"Even Bengaluru and Mysuru people do not know how to speak proper Kannada," Hegde said.
The minister's latest comments have once again brought trouble for the BJP ahead of the Assembly elections in Karnataka. The Assembly elections in the southern state are scheduled in April-May.
Hegde's statements on Kannada have been condemned by both the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular). The opponents of the BJP have termed his latest comments as "stupid". Several pro-Kannada groups have threatened to launch a protest demanding an apology from the minister.
Even Hegde's party colleagues have disagreed with his remarks. "The comments made by the minister were tasteless. It has hurt all Kannadigas, including me. The language has many dialects and all are sweet. Action should be taken against him," said senior BJP leader and former law minister S Suresh Kumar.
Reports say, the BJP's state leaders have asked the high command to take action against Hegde or at least discipline him ahead of the Assembly elections.
Last year, while slamming those who claim themselves to be secular in the country, Hegde, known for his communally-laced remarks in the past, at a function in Kukanur town in Koppal district of Karnataka stated that he respects the Constitution but "it will be changed in the days to come". "We are here for that and that is why we have come."
After facing severe criticism, later he apologised for his comments in the Lok Sabha.
|Karnataka Assembly Election dates|
|Date of notification||April 17|
|Last date to file nominations||April 24|
|Last date to withdraw nominations||April 27|
|Date of polling||May 12|
|Date of counting||May 15|