RSS-BJP washes hands off Karpoori Thakur statue vandalism controversy

Darbhanga/Patna, Jan 24 (IANS) Soon after a report about the RSS and BJP workers allegedly painting former Chief Minister Karpoori Thakur's statue "saffron" in Bihar's Darbhanga appeared in the media on Wednesday, the pro-Hindutva outfits strongly refuted the claim.

Sanjay Saraogi, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Darbhanga town assembly constituency, said the Sangh Pariwar workers did not paint the statue of Karpoori Thakur saffron.

"Unlike what has been reported by some media outlets, no such thing has happened. Why the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or the BJP will paint (Karpoori Thakur's statue) saffron?" he said.

Sanjay also said that he had no information about a protest by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) over the issue, as claimed in the reports.

Earlier in the day, news reports said that upbeat over the two-day visit of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to the city starting Tuesday, the Sangh and BJP activists had painted saffron a statue of veteran socialist leader and two-time Chief Minister of Bihar Karpoori Thakur. The statue was said to be close to the programme venue of the Sangh chief.

"They turned the entire town saffron with flags, posters, banners, welcome arches and even painted the statue of Karpoori Thakur saffron to welcome the RSS chief on Tuesday," a district police official was quoted as having said.

Avinash Kumar, an RSS leader in Darbhanga, said the Sangh had nothing to do with painting any statue saffron. "Why will we do anything like it?"

The Sangh leader said the RJD people had wrongly blamed the Sangh for painting the statue of Thakur saffron. "RJD has no work left other than making wrong accusations against us."

Darbhanga ASP Dilnawaz Ahmad also denied having received any such information. "There is no such news so far," he said.

However, on condition of anonymity, a district police official told IANS that some people associated with the Sangh Parivar had indeed painted the statue of Thakur with saffron colour on Tuesday. But after the RJD protested, the statue was wiped clean.

"Something had happened with the statue, but following the hue and cry, the statue was restored to its original colour," he said.

Corroborating the earlier report, district RJD president Ram Naresh Yadav also said that his party had opposed the act and hundreds of party workers staged a protest against the "saffronisation" of Thakur's statue.

"We have not only protested against it but also submitted a memorandum to the District Magistrate to take action against those who painted the statue saffron," Yadav said.

Popularly known as "Jan Nayak" (people's leader), Thakur was one of the socialist leaders close to Jayaprakash Narayan, who spearheaded the movement for "Total Revolution" as well as protests against the Emergency (1975-77).

Belonging to the extremely backward caste (EBC), he emerged as an important icon for consolidating EBC votes in caste-ridden Bihar. The EBCs are a cluster of over 100 castes accounting for around 32 per cent of the electorate.

Regarded as an honest and hard working leader, Karpoori Thakur was the Chief Minister of Bihar from December 1970 to June 1971 and from December 1977 to April 1979.

Thakur passed away in 1988.



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