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Karnataka bans BJP’s bike rally to Mangaluru

Apprehending traffic snarls and law and order issues, the Karnataka government on Tuesday banned the opposition BJP from taking out a bike rally to Mangaluru from across the state.

“We have asked the BJP leaders to host a public meeting in Mangaluru instead of the rally which would cause traffic problems enroute,” Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy told media persons here.

The state BJP had planned the “Mangaluru Chalo” bike rally and the public meeting to condemn the murders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers in the state.

“Permission has been denied for the rally to prevent disruption of peace and communal harmony in the state and to avoid traffic problems,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters here.

“Instead of going to Mangaluru, the BJP should organise a “Delhi Chalo” for seeking farm loan waiver. We will support that,” the Congress Chief Minister said.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was to flag off the rally from Freedom Park here, was not part of the gathering of party workers.

Earlier, more than 100 BJP workers were detained by the police in the city, a party spokesperson said. Many bikes were also seized.

“We had given a letter requesting for permission but were denied permission,” BJP spokesperson for the state Shantharam told IANS.

“We will continue with the protest rally no-matter-what,” the spokesperson said. It was scheduled to take off on Tuesday and culminate at Mangaluru on September 7.

Several BJP leaders, including Member of Parliament Shobha Karandlaje and former Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka, were also detained.

The state police detained several BJP leaders in different parts of the state.

Ashoka slammed the Chief Minister, Home Minister and the police for denying permission for the “peaceful” rally.

Former Chief Minister and opposition leader Jagadish Shettar said: “The Congress is trying to suppress our rally. It is trying to incite communal passion. The party is trying to impose Emergency-like situation in the state.”

The BJP leaders also sought a ban on the Popular Front of India and the Karnataka Forum for Dignity for their alleged role in the killing of RSS activists.