NEW DELHI – Karnataka’s senior BJP leader and former minister KS Eshwarappa has made a controversial statement on azaan (the Muslim call for prayers).
The BJP leader was addressing a public gathering in the state capital Bengaluru when azaan went out from a mosque nearby.
As soon as the azaan started, a visibly irked Eshwarappa began ranting against loudspeakers being used for the call to prayers, media reports said.
The controversial remarks have the potential to again stoke the azaan debate, which had reached the high court last year.
“Wherever I go, this (azaan) gives me a headache,” he said. “Supreme Court’s judgment is due, if not today, this call for azaan will come to an end”, the leader opined.
“In temples, girls and women offer prayers and bhajans. We are religious, but we don’t use loudspeakers, reports quoting him as saying.
Later, addressing the media in Mangaluru on Monday, Eshwarappa clarified: “Loudspeakers used for azaan disturb many including students who study for exams and patients in hospital. I am speaking on behalf of people who are disturbed by azaan due to loudspeakers. Muslim leaders need to think and take the right decision regarding azaan. I have not disrespected the religion by my statement and not stoked any controversy over azaan.
Eshwarappa also said, “I never told that we do not need Muslim votes. Our party needs votes of Muslims who are nationalists only.”
Eshwarappa, who has also served as the state’s Deputy Chief Minister, is no stranger to controversies. He earlier sparked a row when he referred to 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan as a “Muslim gunda (goon)”.
The senior leader had to step down as a minister last year in the wake of a contractor’s suicide. Eshwarappa was named in the police case as the contractor had accused him of being “solely responsible” for his death in the final messages.