Bengaluru: As senior Congress leader and Vokkaliga strongman, D K Shivakumar remains in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi on charges of money laundering, Vokkaliga seers spearheaded a massive rally in the city on Wednesday in his support and warned the Central agencies against hounding the community's leaders.
The rally by an estimated 30,000 people - with some saying the police were downplaying the numbers - that began from the National College grounds and culminated at Freedom Park, was addressed by the seer of the Sri Gurugunda Brahmeshwara Mutt, Nanjavadhutha swamiji, who charged that attempts were being made to suppress Vokkaligas in the state and warned that the community would not tolerate it.
“The community is with Mr Shivakumar. If such efforts continue, then the seers of all Vokkaliga mutts, including Adi Chunchanagiri mutt, may have to call for a rally. That day, there will be no standing room in Bengaluru,'' he said.
The seer added that the former minister should not end up becoming another V.G. Siddarth, the founder of the Cafe Coffee Day chain, who committed suicide recently, alleging harassment by income tax officials. "Mr Siddarth, who did not commit any mistake, had to leave this world and the rally is to ensure that Mr Shivakumar is also not hounded similarly," he said. Taking a swipe at the Union government, the swamiji said those who ruled should not be dictatorial and be open to criticism.
"Even if the legislature and bureaucracy let us down, we have faith in the judiciary. We are neither saying that Mr Shivakumar should be released tomorrow and nor are we claiming that we will get him out immediately, " he said.
“However, there is a way to treat everyone, no one should be hounded. The Central institutions should work independently without yielding to external pressures,'' he emphasised.
Listing other prominent Vokkaligas who had been let down of late, he said despite waiving of farm loans, former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy had to bite the dust as his government collapsed and the "supreme leader of the community" H D Deve Gowda (JDS supremo) failed to make it to the Lok Sabha.