The protesters said the demonstration was also against the larger issue of alleged religious conversion that was taking place in the region. Hundreds of people clad with saffron scarf took part in “Kanakapura chalo”, organised by ‘Hindu Jagaran Vedike’, holding saffron flags in their hand marched from Aiyappa swamy temple at Kanakapura to Tahsildar office, shouting slogans “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Jai Sri Ram.” Protesters accused Shivakumar of trying to turn “Kapalibetta” or “Muneshwara betta”, the hill on which the proposed statue is to come up, into “Yesu betta.” BJP leader and former Minister C P Yogeshwar, who took part in the protest, accused Shivakumar of trying to instigate communal violence for his “politics.”
He said, this fight is against the “oppressive politics” of Shivakumar and his brother- Bengaluru Rural MP D K Suresh in the region. Hindutva ideologue and RSS functionary Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, who addressed the gathering, said their agitation was not against Jesus Christ, but against the religious conversion in his name.
Questioning Shivakumar, whether he was doing it for the sake of vote and thereby to gain notes, he said “...what is your intention? You want to sell this country to foreigners once again; Hindu community is warning you....”
He further declared that “Muneshwara betta will remain Muneshwara betta...” Later responding to reporters’ questions, Bhat said “if they are still adamant on going ahead with the statue, we will show the strength of Hindu community, we will fight against any activity against Hindu community.” The proposed statue atop a 13-foot pedestal is coming up at Kapalibetta in Harobele village, a predominantly Christian locality in Kanakapura, the Assembly constituency of Shivakumar, about 80 km from here. The office of Shivakumar had earlier said utilizing his own funds the Congress leader had purchased 10 acres at Kapalibetta from the government for the trust that is constructing the statue and claimed it would become the tallest monolithic statue of Jesus in the world.
On December 25, Shivakumar had laid the foundation at a prayer meet and handed over the title deed for the project. Shivakumar has claimed that the Kumaraswamy government, of which he was a part, had cleared the land and he had paid money for it.
A row had broken out in the state over construction of the statue with the ruling BJP terming it as an appeasement policy, and the state government seeking a report from authorities on the status of the land earmarked for the project. Revenue Minister R Ashoka had said it is not Shivakumar’s property to hand it to anyone, as it is government gomala land (pasture land for community use), and had sought a report from the district administration. Speaking to reporters, Shivakumar said BJP and other organisations want to target him for the sake of “political space” in Ramanagara district, which they do not have as of today.
Noting that people have been brought in from outside for the protest, he said he has appealed to people and party workers not to react and maintain peace, if the protesters try to instigate and speak against him.