K’taka: Ex-minister apologises over remark on Kharge’s complexion

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K’taka: Ex-minister apologises over remark on Kharge’s complexion

Bengaluru: Former Karnataka home minister and senior BJP leader Araga Jnanendra on Wednesday apologised for his remarks on the skin tone of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge.

Saying that he has immense respect towards Kharge, the BJP leader said: “I should not be mistaken otherwise.

“I was addressing a gathering of party workers on Tuesday over the statement of Forest Minister Eshwar Khadre regarding the implementation of the Kasturi Rangan report which is a death sentence for people of the Malnad region. I was criticising the Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre and mistakenly took the name and I apologise for the same,” Jnanendra said.

Jnanendra came under fire over his objectionable remark.

The Congress demanded his expulsion from the BJP, saying “he should be sent to a hospital which treats mental illness”.

The party workers staged a protest in Bengaluru against him.

While participating in a protest against the implementation of the Kasturi Rangan report in the Western Ghat region, Jnanedra had stated that Minister of Forests Eshwar Khandre is from northern Karnataka and he does not have any knowledge about people living near forests.

“The people of the region do not have the cover of trees and will be burnt under the scorching Sun. Is it not evident when we see Mallikarjun Kharge?” he questioned.

“It is a tragedy that our state has a minister of forests coming from a region which does not have forest at all. The people of north Karnataka are burnt to the core under the scorching Sun. If we see Mallikarjun Kharge, we know the plight of those people. Eshwar Khandre has some hair on his head and he could escape the scorching Sun,” Jnanedra further said.

The comments were made during the protest in Thirthahalli in Shivamogga district on Tuesday.

The remarks went viral on social media on Wednesday, drawing public outrage across Karnataka.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar on Wednesday slammed the former state minister, saying that he should be sent to NIMHANS hospital for treatment of mental illness.

“The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) is located in Bengaluru. It functions excellently. If Araga Jnanendra continues to speak in this fashion, he will have to be sent there,” he said.

The Karnataka Congress also put a post slamming Jnanendra, seeking his apology.

“By ridiculing the skin colour of Mallikarjun Kharge, Araga Jnanedra has represented the low standards of the mindset of the BJP. He had voiced the impatience and negligence the BJP has towards Dalits,” the Congress said.

“The humiliation on the skin tone is not only an insult to Mallikarjun Kharge, it is an insult to the natives of the land, Dalits. If BJP has even scant respect for Dalits, Araga Jnanedra must be expelled from the party,” the Congress said.

Minister for Forest Eshwar Khandre said: “He has issued statements after losing mental balance. Legal action should be initiated against him and he should be expelled from the BJP.”

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