'Let's Compete on IT & Infra, Not Halal & Hijab': KTR's Chat With DK Shivakumar
KTR told the Congress' Shivakumar that there should be a healthy competition between Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
In a Twitter tete-a-tete, Telangana IT Minister Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao told Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar that there should be a healthy competition between the IT hubs of Hyderabad and Bengaluru, and not communal divide.
Rao, popularly known as KTR, told Shivakumar on Monday, 4 March, "Anna, I don’t know much about politics of Karnataka and who will win but challenge accepted. Let Hyderabad and Bengaluru compete healthily on creating jobs for our youngsters and prosperity for our great nation. Let’s focus on infra, IT, and BT, not on Halal and Hijab."
KTR's remark comes after Biocon executive chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw requested Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to "resolve communal divide" in the state for the benefit of ITBT (Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science and Technology) sector.
Shaw was referring to Hindu right-wing outfits' call for a ban on Muslim vendors near Hindu temples.
What Was the Conversation?
KTR had, a few days ago, advised a Bengaluru entrepreneur on Twitter to move to Hyderabad.
"Pack your bags & move to Hyderabad! We have better physical infrastructure & equally good social infrastructure. Our airport is 1 of the best & getting in & out of city is a breeze. More importantly our Govt’s focus is on 3 i Mantra; innovation, infrastructure & inclusive growth," he had said.
Responding to KTR's tweet, DK Shivakumar on Sunday had said that the Congress would come back to power in Karnataka and make Bengaluru India's best city.
"KTR my friend, I accept your challenge. By the end of 2023, with Congress back in power in Karnataka, we will restore the glory of Bengaluru as India’s best city," he wrote in Twitter.
Actor Prakash Raj also joined in the conversation and applauded the two leaders, saying "This is should be the spirit.. this should be the conversation..not communal politics.."
Priyank Kharge, Congress MLA and former IT minister of the state, also responded to the issue. He said, “Congratulations CMO Karnataka, we now have our neighbour telling startups to move to Hyderabad for not only better infrastructure, but also a better “social” infrastructure. A few more economic jihads from your party will ensure that we neither get investments or jobs.”
Reacting to the exchange, BJP leader and Karnataka minister CN Ashwathnarayan was quoted as saying by ANI: "Tweet wasn't in good taste. Being in responsible position, it shouldn't be the attitude. Trying to pull legs of each other doesn't go good for any government. We're Indians, need to compete with entire world. Condemnable."
Interestingly, this is not the first time that KTR has stepped in to tactically condemn communal tension in Bengaluru.
Not the First Dig by KTR
In December 2021, KTR welcomed stand-up comedians Munawar Faruqui and Kunal Kamra to Hyderabad, right after Bengaluru police denied permission to their events, following complaints by Hindu right-wing groups.
Rao, who was speaking at an event in Hyderabad, said, "We don't cancel shows of Munawar Faruqui and Kunal Kamra just because we are not aligned with them politically...We are truly welcoming." Rao's remark had received widespread appreciation at the time, with several Twitter handles applauding.
KTR's remarks, however, should be seen in the light of fresh political equations that are emerging between non-BJP ruled states in India. While Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), helmed by KTR's father and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, has been at loggerheads with the Congress in the Telugu state since 2014, of late there has been a change in this equation.
Chandrashekar Rao, who is popularly known as KCR, has been trying to forge an anti-BJP coalition, ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections, by forging alliances with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu.
Though KCR wanted to exclude the Congress while forming the alliance, influence of other regional players, who have been favouring the grand old party, has rubbed off on TRS as well.
In what seemed to be a political flip, KCR, in February, demanded the resignation of Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sharma for making lewd remarks against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Now, with KTR baiting the BJP twice in four months, political alliance between the Congress and the TRS seems to be bettering.
Meanwhile, Congress in Karnataka is up for a challenge in 2024 elections, the BJP seems to have benefited from a three-month-long row over the wearing of hijab in classrooms. Hindu right-wing groups have also been demanding a boycott of halal meat and other products in the state, where communal tensions remain high.
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.