Controversial past dogs new Union Minister Hegde

Induction of BJP’s Lok Sabha lawmaker from Karnataka Anantkumar Hegde as Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship on Sunday drew a spat between the Congress and the BJP in light of his controversial past.

While Congress slammed Hegde’s inclusion, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lauded it as a reward for his contribution to the state as a five-time parliamentarian from the Uttara Kannada constituency.

“Hegde was captured on camera, thrashing a doctor in a private hospital at Sirsi in Karnataka,” said Congress spokesman Manish Tewari in New Delhi.

Playing down the incident, party’s state unit spokesman Shantaram told IANS here that the fracas was on the spur of a moment over an argument and no case was made against Hegde.

“It was a petty case of a heated argument turning into a scuffle on the spur, as he (Hegde) had no intention to harm anyone,” he said.

CCTV camera footage showed a furious Hegde, 49, assaulting a duty doctor on January 3, for not attending to his mother who was admitted for treatment to a fracture after a fall at home.

The footage also showed Hegde, a Tae-Kon-Do expert, grabbing another doctor by the scruff of his neck and slamming him against the wall.

A case was also registered against Hegde in 2016 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments after he maintained that “there would be terrorism as long as Islam was there in the world and cannot be eradicated”.

Denying the charge, Shantaram said Hegde was misquoted and his statement taken out of context as his observation was on the basis of terror events in parts of the Arab world then.

The veteran MP has been a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and an activist of its student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad since his college days.

Hegde is also the party’s state unit Vice President and founder of NGO Kadamba, which works for rural development, rural health, and self-help groups.

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