Yashpal Suvarna: Vigilant from cow to college administrator, BJP leader hopes for another head start with hijab line

Within the BJP ecosystem in the coastal districts of Karnataka, Yashpal Anand Suvarna is a rising star – as Cow Vigilante, ABVP Leader, Bajrang Dal Activist, BJP National Secretary General OBC Morcha and, obviously, future deputy.

The 44-year-old is also the vice chairperson of the development committee of Udupi Government PU Girls’ College, which is at the heart of the hijab row, who on Wednesday called the six students who went to court as “terrorists”. Suvarna says he stands by his statement because those who do not respect the law of the land are “anti-nationals”.

His political career aside, Suvarna’s influence also helped the family fishing business, which his father started after quitting his job at a bank. For the past 13 years, Suvarna has served as the President of the Cooperative Fish Marketing Federation of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi Districts. The saying goes that in coastal Karnataka whoever controls the seas controls the region. The OBC community to which Suvarna belongs, Mogaveera, is widely employed in fishing.

In coastal districts where communal matters sway more than caste, as is the case in other parts of Karnataka, the Suvarna family has had ancient ties to the RSS. As early as 1980, Suvarna’s uncle, Raghunath, an RSS worker, ran in the Assembly constituency of Surathkal and lost.

While in college, Suvarna associated with the ABVP, followed by the Bajrang Dal. By his late twenties, he had established a local reputation as a cowherd. In 2005, he was one of the main defendants in the stripping and parade of a father and son who allegedly transported calves. He was later acquitted by a special court.

In 2017, when Sri Vishweshateertha Swamiji of the Pejawar Mutt of Udupi held an iftar party inside the cabot, Suvarna was among those who objected. “I told the seer not to entertain Muslims, but I didn’t comment against him in public because he was my guru,” he says.

CPM leader Muneer Katipalla says Suvarna has reaped rich dividends from polarization, like others. “We raised this concern 15 years ago, but it has been overlooked.”

Athavulla Punjalkatte, the Karnataka President of the Campus Front of India (CFI), which has backed the hijab petitioners in their legal fight, says Suvarna’s statement shows his intentions. “He is a candidate in the next elections to the Assembly and tried to seduce the high command by making such statements. Unfortunately, these are encouraged by the BJP.

Udupi district has five Assembly constituencies, and Suvarna is said to have his eye on Kapu. The 44-year-old says he hasn’t approached the BJP or the RSS for a ticket, but if the party wants him to challenge, he will. However, he adds, “politics is secondary. Hindutva is the first priority.

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