India’s first karate instructor to become the chief minister of a neighbouring state has warned the BJP of a possible backlash if he is seen as endorsing the sport.
Bajrang Dal (BJD) leader Sharad Pawar has taken up the cause of sport in his new role as the state BJP’s sports secretary.
In his inaugural address at a party function in the district, he said karate was a sport that had been brought to India by the British.
He added that his role as a BJP spokesman meant he would be asked to address the BJP.
“If he (Pawar) goes to the BJP, we are going to be facing a situation where the BJP will say, you are not allowed to talk about sport in the BJP,” Pawar said.
The chief minister has come under increasing pressure from the opposition over the party’s stance on sport in recent months.
The Congress party has been calling for a ban on the sport and said that it was time for the government to make a decision.
Pawar’s comments have triggered sharp criticism from opposition leaders, who say he is in breach of a pledge to ban the sport if he becomes the BJP’s chief minister.
The BJP has repeatedly said that any criticism of karate would be dismissed.
However, the opposition has pointed out that it has been a long time since any BJP politician has taken a stand on the issue.
Pawar, who also heads the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been at the centre of controversy in the past.
In 2015, the BJP-led Maharashtra government banned a sport popular in the state called karate.
The move led to protests from karate clubs in the country.
In January this year, a video surfaced showing the chief secretary of the BJP state unit in the city of Ahmedabad making a derogatory remark about a man’s karaoke skills.