Bengaluru, Sep 11 (IANS) In a show of strength, about 12,000 Vokkaligas of the politically-dominant community in Karnataka staged a massive rally to protest the arrest of Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on September 3 in a money laundering case, a party official said on Wednesday.
"The 5 km long rally from National College in the southern suburbs to Freedom Park in the city central was peaceful and the response was overwhelming, as thousands of Vokkaligas protested Shivakumar's arrest and demanded his release forthwith," party official Ravi Gowda told IANS here.
The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) also joined the rally along with hundreds of pro-Kannada activists to express solidarity with Shivakumar, a strong Vokkaliga leader in the southern state.
"The BJP-led NDA government is indulging in vendetta politics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are hell-bent on taking revenge on Shivakumar for being our party's trouble-shooter and consolidating the Vokkaligas, cutting across the party lines," Gowda said.
Elaborate security arrangements were made en route and additional police personnel were deployed at the venues to prevent any untoward incident.
Party's state unit president Dinesh Gundu Rao and other state leaders participated in the rally and addressed the gathering at the Freedom Park, accusing the BJP of trying to finish off the opposition parties, especially the Congress, by misusing the central agencies like ED and CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation).
"Most of the protesters came from the old Mysuru region, including Ramanagara, Channapatna, Kanakapura, Mandya and Mysuru, responding to the call of the community leaders and pro-Kannada organisations," Gowda said.
Party's legislators like Krishna Byre Gowda, Sowmya Reddy and former MP V.S. Ugrappa took part in the rally and the public event.
Thanking the community leaders and the party for their support and solidarity, Shivakumar urged them to conduct the rally and demo peacefully without causing inconvenience to the people and not to damage public property.
"I would like to reiterate that I have done nothing wrong and am a target of vendetta politics. With the support and blessings of you all and my belief in god and judiciary, I have full faith that I will emerge victorious both legally and politically in this case," tweeted Shivakumar to his community leaders and followers.