While addressing a public rally in poll-bound Karnataka on April 17, Patil said that the upcoming assembly elections in the state is "not about road or water or other issues".
"Keeping a hand on my chest I say loudly, this is Bharat, this is the country of Hindus, and this is the country where (Lord) Ram was born".
"This elections is not about roads or drinking water, this election is about Hindus and Muslims", he had said. "Let Laxmi Hebbalkar speak about constructing Ram mandir, you all vote for her, but she can't say it, as she is among those who will construct a masjid, Babri masjid", he said. I am committed to the construction of the Ram Mandir. "If you vote for the Congress, they will only build Babri Masjid", Patil told the crowd.
Belagavi (formerly known as Belgaum) is on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border, and is a communally sensitive area with a significant presence of Muslims and Marathi-speaking Hindus. Patil represents the Belagavi Rural constituency in north Karnataka. Earlier this year, Patil and Hebbalkar got into a spat after Patil accused Hebbalkar of taking credit for approving funds for development works in Belagavi Rural when she had actually not done so.
The polls in Karnataka are slated to be held on May 12, with the results scheduled to be declared on May 15. Several people, including leaders of the Congress, have slammed Patil for trying to polarise the elections.
Less than a month before the state Assembly elections, Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) has triggered a new controversy.
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