A meet to remember slain journalist Gauri Lankesh took on political colours on Monday with speakers urging the people to vote against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018.
While leaders like Jignesh Mewani, Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid appealed for BJP to be voted out of power, the saffron party- while maintaining that politicisation of the event was expected- also alleged that the intent of the event was never to pay tributes to Gauri Lankesh.
BJP and RSS bashing took centre stage at the event that was organised to remember Gauri Lankesh on her 56th birth anniversary. "The biggest gift anyone can give Gauri is to collectively decide that, come what may, BJP and the Sangh is given a tight slap in Karnataka as well as 2019 elections," Jignesh Mewani said during his speech.
Speakers like Shehla Rashid referred to RSS as "terrorist organisations" and slammed BJP leaders like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and urged people not to let efforts of people like Gauri "go waste". "We are now Gauri Parivar and we will destroy Sangh Parivar," said Kanhaiya Kumar to thunderous applause even as he took jibes at Prime Minister Modi calling him out for "abandoning his wife while clicking pictures with Chopra" (Priyanka).
The BJP in Karnataka alleged that the event was aimed at inciting voters against the party. "The agenda is political and not Gauri. The intent is not demanding justice for Gauri but to create a forum for BJP-RSS bashing," said Malavika Avinash, Spokesperson, BJP Karnataka. She highlighted the reluctance on part of the speakers to question the Congress-led Karnataka government. "Siddaramaiah is propping these people to fight the BJP since losing Karnataka is a physical as well as a moral loss for the Congress," she added.
Mewani announced that he would campaign for three weeks against the BJP in Karnataka ahead of the assembly elections. The first-time legislator from Gujarat even called for all parties to come together to defeat the BJP in Karnataka.
The presence of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's media advisor and senior journalist and Gauri's friend Dinesh Amin Mattu only added to speculations of the event being a government sponsored one.