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Taking head on the BJP ploy to rake up Hindutva as its main poll plank in Karnataka, the Congress has decided to hit back aggressively. The latest was a video mocking Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP’s latest Hindutva icon, whom the saffron party has roped in as a star campaigner in the state.

A minute-long video clip, titled ‘Here’s a recipe for a BJP star campaigner. We don’t recommend it,’ tweeted by the party’s official handle with the hashtag ‘#RecipeForDisaster’ takes a dig at Yogi, making references to his ‘criminal record, his zero attention to development and his Hindutva antecedents’.

Yogi’s recipe, says the Congress video clip, comprises one kilogram of criminal records, one litre of saffron dye, half a cup of crocodile tears, one cup homophobia, two tablespoons of misogyny, and zero attention to development. All these ingredients then need to be simmered on a communal flame and brought to a boil, garnished with ignorance and served with hate in Karnataka. The video wraps up with the sign-off: ‘#RecipeForDisaster, coming to your state soon!’

The BJP objected. Spokesperson Nalin Kohli said it was in bad taste. “But then good taste and the Congress have always been miles apart,” News18 quoted him as saying.

Another spokesperson S Prakash said that “mocking an elected chief minister shows how the Congress has stooped to such low level of politics”.

The Congress retaliated: “The BJP has mocked so many Congress leaders in the past, but if we mock one of them, they get outraged. Yogi Adityanath came to Karnataka to speak about development, when Karnataka is the No.1 in the economy with Bengaluru getting the tag of the most dynamic city in the world. Someone who can’t take care of children’s health in his backyard shouldn’t advise us on development.”

The video clip comes a week after Aditynatah held a series of rallies in the state, campaigning for the BJP and just days after Yogi’s spat with Siddaramaiah in which the Uttar Pradesh chief minister had dared the latter to prove his Hindu credentials by banning cow slaughter in the state.

Siddaramaiah retorted saying he had reared cows and asked whether Adityanath who lectures about cow protection had done the same.

“I have reared cows, grazed them and even cleaned the dung. Has Yogi Adityanath done all these?” Siddaramaiah said, adding “What moral right does he have to speak about cow protection.”

UP CM Aditynatah had also questioned Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s Hindu credentials – in what was supposedly a poll campaign and, hence, about politics – as he endorses beef.

Siddaramaiah asked as to who the BJP was to question food habits but added that he doesn’t eat beef because he doesn’t like it.

Siddaramaiah said, “Who are these people to question our food habits. Many among the Hindus consume beef. If I want to eat, I will eat. Who are these people to tell me not to eat. But I don’t like beef, so I don’t eat it.”

He said that he is a Hindu who follows humanism, as against communalism, and the BJP doesn’t have any sole right to protect Hinduism.

A couple of days ago, Congress leaders said there are ‘terrorist elements’ in the BJP and VHP, charges that got the BJP leaders’ hackles up.

The twitter war started when the UP CM was arriving in Karnataka, with Siddarmaiah asking Yogi to visit ration shops and Indira canteens during his visits to Karnataka as this could help him (Yogi) solve poverty in his own State and Yogi hitting back that Karnataka has seen the maximum farmers’ suicides.

‘Welcoming’ Adityanath to Bengaluru, Siddaramaiah had recently tweeted that there’s a lot he can learn from Karnataka to address the reported starvation deaths in his state. “I welcome UP CM Shri @myogiadityanath to our state. There is a lot you can learn from us Sir. When you are here please visit an Indira Canteen & a ration shop. It will help you address the starvation deaths sometimes reported from your state. #YogiInBengaluru, (sic)” Siddaramaiah had tweeted.

The Karnataka chief minister’s tweet drew a prompt riposte from Adityanath. “Thank you for the welcome @siddaramaiah ji. I heard number of farmers committing suicide in Karnataka was highest in your regime, not to mention the numerous deaths and transfer of honest officers. As UP CM I am working to undo the misery and lawlessness unleashed by your allies,” Adityanath tweeted.

The “welcome” barb between both the chief ministers soon went viral on Twitter, with supporters of political parties taking sides and trolling each other with hashtags “#YogiInBengaluru” and “#HogappaYogi” (go Yogi).

Karnataka is due for polls by April-May this year, with the BJP seeking to regain power in the only south Indian state it has been able to form a government in so far and the Congress fighting to retain it.

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