Karnataka BJP MP Stopped By Villagers Over Caste Welcomed With Garlands

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The Karnataka BJP MP who last week was denied entry into a village because he belonged to a different caste, was welcomed with garlands on Monday, and ushered inside in the presence of religious leaders who also carried out a ‘harmony walk’. A Narayanaswamy, a Lok Sabha member from Chitradurga, later said his entry represented “a big change”.

“I succeeded in changing their heart and mind… it is a big change,” Mr Narayanaswamy, who had been touring his constituency when he was stopped from entering Gollarahatti village in Tumkur district, said.

On September 16 Mr Narayanaswamy was on his to attend a drinking water project when the incident took place at a village barely 100 kilometres from Bengaluru, India’s Silicon Valley. He reportedly wanted to visit a temple in the village.

When he sought to enter the village, members of the Golla community – after whom the village is named – told the BJP leader that lower caste members were not allowed to enter.

“We have traditions. There is a history of incidents. So people said he should not be allowed,” a villager, Nagaraj, told news agency ANI. The villagers also claimed that if they made an exception they would face repercussions from the Yadava community.

The Gollas belong to the category of Other Backward Classes.

Mr Narayanaswamy decided not to file a complaint. “I left the place as I never wanted any controversy. Let them be educated and the tradition be abolished. I don’t want to register any case,” he told reports later.

Nevertheless, the district administration launched an inquiry. “Action will be taken against those found guilty,” Vamsi Krishna, a senior police officer, said.

The incident was criticised by the ruling BJP, with Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan saying there was “no place for (such) discrimination“.

“Such kind of incident has happened… it should be condemned and action should be taken. No place for discrimination,” he said.

Some of the villagers did appear to be willing to forego tradition and invited the MP into their homes but Mr Narayanaswamy chose to leave, later telling reporters he did not want villagers to fight over him.

The BJP took power in Karnataka in July after the Janata Dal Secular-Congress coalition government crashed because of multiple defections.

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