UNION Minister of State for Skill Development, Anantkumar Hegde has landed in another controversy by using the term “barking dogs” to describe those protesting against him. Prakash Raj, a well-known critic of the current dispensation and Hegde claimed that he had called the protesters ‘dogs’.

Hedge, who had arrived in  Karnataka’s Ballari district for a job fair and skill exhibition was stopped by Dalit protesters. They blocked his car and shouted slogans for his earlier speech on the Indian Constitution. Later, while addressing an event, Hegde said that he does not care about stray dogs barking, and that remark angered Dalit groups even more.

How it started
On Saturday morning, hundreds of people belonging to Dalit organisations, farmers, labour and women’s associations gathered for a protest outside the Government Inspection Bungalow in Karnataka’s Ballari district where Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde was residing. The protesters expressed anger against the Minister of State for Skill Development for his remarks on changing the Constitution and and also mocking progressive thinkers.

When the sloganeering against Anantkumar Hegde grew louder, the police intervened to control the situation. The protesters accused the Minister, the BJP, RSS and also Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being anti-Dalit.

Later, speaking at the job fair, Anantkumar Hegde said: “I am a very straightforward person and speak without hesitating to express my views. I am committed to help nurture the skill already prevalent among the youth and help them become independent. I am here to realise the dreams of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to transform the country into a “skilled Bharat”. We will go ahead with this commitment and not care about barking stray dogs.”

The reference to stray dogs, which came soon after the morning protests, enraged Dalit groups further. Many Dalit organisations stated another protest where they waved black flags and shouted slogans against Anantkumar. Several activists were detained as the protesters surrounded Anantkumar Hegde’s car when he was leaving the venue.

The Minister did not step out of his vehicle amid the commotion even as BJP MP Sriramulu attempted to pacify the protesters.
In December last year, the Minister faced public ire for his comments on “changing the Constitution”. “I respect the constitution but the constitution has changed according to the times on many occasions in the past and it will change in the future. We are here to change the Constitution,” Hegde said. Hegde’s statement went on to become fodder for rival political parties, howeever, due to the public ire generated, even his own party had distanced itself from him.

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