Bharatiya Janata Party was today left red-faced as it inducted Pramod Muthalik, the controversial chief of Sri Rama Sene linked with the attack on women at a pub in Mangalore in 2009, only to dump him within hours after opposition from within and severe flak from other parties.
Muthalik, who is facing some 45 cases including those relating to promoting enmity between two communities, was welcomed into the party fold in the presence of Karnataka party president Prahalad Joshi, former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and former Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa at a
function in Hubli.
But as Congress and other parties latched on the issue to attack BJP and rumblings began within the saffron party, BJP President Rajnath Singh directed Joshi to rescind the move.
Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said in Delhi the central leadership was not consulted on the decision and has disapproved of it. "It had instructed the state party to reject the membership of Muthalik."
Soon after the party chief's call, Joshi said the decision allowing entry of Muthalik has been set aside.
"Due to various reasons, induction of Pramod Muthalik has been set aside under central party direction by the state president Prahlad Joshi," said a statement issued by the party's Karnataka unit.
Asked about the confusion, Joshi said the decision to induct Muthalik into the party was taken at the state level.
51-year-old Muthalik had shot into limelight after activists of his right-wing outfit had barged into the pub in Mangalore in 2009 and assaulted youngsters — women and men — after accusing them of behaving in an "obscene manner".
Muthalik, who was arrested after the incident, had apologised for the violence but claimed that their actions were "aimed at protecting the women". The then Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa had said Sri Ram Sene had "nothing to do" with BJP or the Sangh parivar.
Congress slammed BJP's move to induct Muthalik saying that its leaders, including Sushma Swaraj have been talking about women's empowerment but their party was now "glaringly opposing women's emancipation" and had been exposed.
Party leader Ambika Soni said people should send a firm message in the coming election that "any party which honours, appeases people who publicly violate the self-respect and dignity of women are not going to be tolerated".
"You can see this is height of opportunism and I think that women across the country should take a very decisive call on