A senior leader of the Indian National Congress party, Veerappa Moily, has clarified that there is no proposal to ban the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Sangh-affiliated Vishwa Hindu Parishad, in the state of Karnataka. This follows the party’s announcement in the May 10 election manifesto, which promised to take action against organizations spreading hatred, including the Bajrang Dal. The manifesto had also named the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim group banned by some states for alleged links to terrorism.
Moily explained that the Congress party had mentioned both the PFI and the Bajrang Dal in their manifesto, but banning an organization was not possible by a state government. He added that the Supreme Court has given judgment to stop hate politics, and Congress has no proposal to ban the Bajrang Dal. Moily’s clarification came after the party’s announcement triggered a backlash from members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who accused the Congress of insulting Lord Hanuman, a Hindu deity revered by the group.
The inclusion of the Bajrang Dal in the manifesto drew sharp criticism from Modi, who accused the Congress of having a problem with Lord Ram, another Hindu god whose temple the BJP wants to build at a disputed site in Ayodhya. The Congress, in turn, accused Modi of “hurting the religious sentiments” of devotees by equating Lord Hanuman with the Bajrang Dal and demanded an apology from him.
The Congress party, which promised to crack down on radical groups, is hoping to win the Karnataka election scheduled for May 12. The BJP is currently in power in the state, and the election is seen as a crucial test for both parties ahead of the national election in 2019.
In recent years, the Bajrang Dal has been accused of vigilantism, violence, and moral policing. The group has been linked to attacks on minorities, including Muslims and Christians, and has faced criticism for its alleged involvement in the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.