Tejasvi Surya, MP from Bengaluru South and the newly appointed head of the BJP Yuva Morcha, drew much criticism for his comments that Bengaluru was an epicentre of terror. He was speaking in the context of having asked for a National Investigation Agency (NIA) centre in the city. But the comment was embarrassing for his own party that runs the government in his home state Karnataka – and it also drew criticism from opposition leaders, who accused him of tarnishing Bengaluru’s image.
Back in Bengaluru from Delhi, Mr Surya spoke of what the city means to him.
“We all love Bangalore. Bengaluru is a city that has given me my identity today. Across the country, the people who know me, recognise me as Bangalore’s boy. It has given me education, employment, our food on my table. It has given me identity. People of Bangalore have elected me and sent me to parliament to protect their interests. Which is why I requested the honourable Home Minister that Bangalore must be protected,” Mr Surya said.
He said the NIA centre was required. “In the last few years a few sleeper cells, for a few terrorist organisations, have been busted by the NIA. Our city cannot go to the hands of goons and anti-national organisations that will run amok. Therefore, there is a need for NIA in the city,” Mr Surya said.
“Recently, when a few terrorist recruiters were arrested, NIA in the course of its investigation revealed that these anti-national organisations wanted to use the forests of south India and support from Bengaluru to further their agenda of waging jihad against south India. In light of all this we have made a demand for a permanent NIA station in Bangalore. The honourable Home Minister, considering the gravity of the situation and the safety and security of India’s financial capital in the south, has assured it will be sanctioned soon,” the MP said.
Congress leaders had criticised his comments, with the Karnataka Congress chief saying Mr Surya was “killing Bangalore” and that he should be sacked by the BJP.
Mr Surya hit back, referring to recent riots in the city that the NIA is investigating, saying, “Those Congress people who are creating an issue out of nothing, are doing so because they do not want an NIA centre in Bangalore. Because they know their partner SDPI will be exposed and that will not be conducive to their politics of division and hate. Those who did not stand by their own Dalit MLA when 3,000 people burnt his house and police staying in Bangalore, they are lecturing me on keeping Bangalore safe.”
Former chief minister and Janata Dal Secular leader HD Kumaraswamy, without naming Mr Surya, strongly criticised the comments on Bengaluru as epicentre of terrorism.
“I also want to ask the JDS leaders today, the MLA whose house was burnt, he was earlier in the JDS. How many JDS leaders stood by him? They are scared of their vote bank getting lost. I am more concerned about the safety and security of Bangalore. They do not want NIA in Bangalore,” Mr Surya said.
Mr Surya was a surprise selection as the BJP candidate for the Bengaluru South Lok Sabha Seat in 2019 – and this was not the first time his comments and tweets have led to controversy.