In a shocking statement that has enraged a controversy, Karnataka's ruling BJP legislator MP Renukacharya on Tuesday accused Muslims of storing lethal weapons, including swords, knives and soda bottles, in mosques across the southern state while their priests (khazis) were giving fatwas instead of sermons.
"Instead of offering prayers (namaz), Muslims are storing weapons in mosques and their priests (khazis) are giving fatwas instead of sermons," Renukacharya said at a pro-CAA rally in his home town Honnalli in Davenagere district, about 300km from Bengaluru.
A former minister in the previous BJP government (2008-13), Renukacharya is currently the political secretary to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa since August 2019.
Upping the ante against the minorities, the lawmaker said that since the Muslims had not responded to his call to support the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as evident from their absence at the rally, he would divert funds earmarked to their welfare to Hindus in his Assembly constituency.
"If they (minorities) consider our party (BJP) to be enemy despite treating them as equals, I too will ignore them and not entertain them if they continue to oppose our policies and programmes," he said in Kannada.
BJP distances from Renukacharya's comments
Distancing the party from Renukacharya's comments, Karnataka BJP spokesperson S Prakash said that Renukacharya statements are his personal views and the party has nothing to do with anything he said.
Renukacharya's remarks to be probed: BJP spokesperson
Party's state unit spokesman G Madhusudhana said the state government would consider Renukacharya's remarks seriously, probe into his claims and act if they were true.
"We will review what he (Renukacharya) said, the context in which he said and act against offenders if weapons are found in mosques," Madhusudhana said while speaking to IANS.
Disheartened by radical change in Muslims: Renukacharya
Expressing disappointment over the non-participation of the minorities in the rally, the legislator said he was disheartened by the radical change in them (Muslims) against him and his party though he never differentiated or discriminated against anyone.
"As an MLA for all, I have been hosting Muslims, embracing them and offering them tea and snacks when we meet. If they don't want me, then I too will keep away and won't ask for their votes," Renukacharya said.
(With inputs from IANS)