Former Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Thursday criticised the right-wing activists for seeking ban on Muslim merchants and halal meat, giving a call to farmers in the rural areas of the state "to not encourage the saffron-clad Hindutva activists".
"I will not sit quiet with what is happening in the state," he said.
Kumaraswamy even stated that if Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has "mardaangi" (manliness), he would not sit quiet, but take action.
His statements are likely to create confrontations in the rural areas, especially in south Karnataka where the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) has a strong presence.
The ruling BJP is gaining momentum in the JD-S stronghold areas where Hindutva activists have taken up campaigns by distributing hand bills calling out to impose ban on Muslims merchants.
Kumaraswamy has slammed the BJP for encouraging such developments.
The former Chief Minister even termed the activists of Vishva Hindu Parishad and Bajarang Dal, who have taken up halal campaigns, as "anti-social elements".
"The trend of flaunting saffron shawls and creating disharmony has to stop and it won't be encouraged in the state," he said.
"All these years, we have eaten halal meat. What harm has it caused? God did not appear in our dreams, and tell us that we have done wrong. Do not encourage the right-wing activists in the villages," he said.
Kumaraswamy also said that he is not bothered about vote bank politics and he wants peace to be established in the state.
Sources in the ruling BJP, however, claimed that since the Hindutva agenda is eroding the vote base of JD-S in the rural areas of the state, Kumaraswamy is upset as it is the question of survival for him.
Meanwhile, the top leaders of the party pledging their support to ban on halal meat condemned Kumaraswamy for using the word 'mardaangi' for Bommai.
Minister for Revenue R. Ashoka stated that the 'mardaangi' referrence to an incumbent Chief Minister did not suit his dignity and statements like this will spoil the harmony in the state.
National General Secretary and BJP legislator C.T. Ravi, and Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj K.S. Eshwarappa took a dig at Kumaraswamy over the 'mardaangi' remark by indirectly referring to the past relationship of Kumaraswamy with an actress.
The Chief Minister, however, maintained that it is not a question of 'mardaangi'.
"The government has handled issues efficiently and maintained law and order," Bommai said.
Karnataka Congress President D.K. Shivakumar said that Kumaraswamy is a senior politician and he won't answer questions on his comments.
Meanwhile, Kumaraswamy later apologised for his 'mardaangi' comment on Bommai.