Lingayats have become a key campaign issue, with issues such as development, farmers’ suicide, corruption, etc., taking a back seat.

 

For decades, over 290 important mutts (religious centres of spiritual preaching) in Karnataka have played a pivotal role in the political scene in Karnataka, but in the forthcoming state polls, thanks to the decision of the Siddaramaiah government to accord Lingayats the separate religion tag, the mutts have taken centre-stage. Both BJP president Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi are choosing the same path to bring their parties to power and have restricted their campaign to mutt-hopping. Between them, the two leaders have met every pontiff, seer or mutt head in the state to seek their opinion and support. Both the leaders have desperately put across their stance on the separate Lingayat religion and are garnering the pulse of the state.

The Siddaramaiah government’s move has brought a vertical split in the Veerashaiva-Lingayat communities. The community stands divided on its stance on the issue. While the Lingayats who follow the Basava philosophy truly and do not accept the Vedas, welcomed the minority tag that is now accorded to them, the Veerashaivas, considered as a sect of the Hindu religion, are upset with Siddaramaiah over the move.or decades, over 290 important mutts (religious centres of spiritual preaching) in Karnataka have played a pivotal role in the political scene in Karnataka, but in the forthcoming state polls, thanks to the decision of the Siddaramaiah government to accord Lingayats the separate religion tag, the mutts have taken centre-stage. Both BJP president Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi are choosing the same path to bring their parties to power and have restricted their campaign to mutt-hopping. Between them, the two leaders have met every pontiff, seer or mutt head in the state to seek their opinion and support. Both the leaders have desperately put across their stance on the separate Lingayat religion and are garnering the pulse of the state.

The state government’s move may have put the Central government in a fix. The Sunday Guardian has gathered that the Ministry of Home Affairs which received the recommendation of the Karnataka government to accord separate religious identity, chose to send it to the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

The brilliance of Amit Shah in managing polls is yet again on display in Karnataka as the BJP president has practically stretched his campaign schedule to over 12-15 hours a day and is visiting the length and breadth of the state. The visit of Amit Shah, to the various mutts and religious heads in the last week, however, may succeed in controlling the perceived damage that the separate minority tag may have done to the BJP’s poll prospects. The BJP president was quick to come down on the Congress after meeting its prominent pontiff at the Suttur Mutt in Mysuru.

“Took blessings of Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji of Sri Suttur Math in Mysuru,” he tweeted after his meeting with the seer. The BJP president had begun his third leg of tour earlier on 26 March by seeking the blessings of the 111-year-old Sri Shivakumara Swami of Siddhaganga Mutt in Tumkuru, a revered seer of the Lingayat community.

While not much of the closed door discussions that Amit Shah has had with the leaders of the Lingayat community and the pontiffs has come out officially, but after his meeting with over 250 seers of the Lingayat community, Amit Shah seems to have reversed the cards on Siddaramaiah. Speaking during an interaction with hundreds of seers at Shivayogi Mandir in Badamitaluk of Bagalkot district, he assured scores of seers that they need not panic about the state government’s recommendation to accord minority status for Lingayats. “I have not come to Shivayogi Mandir to indulge in politics. I have visited here just to seek the blessings of the seers. I will give you commitment that we will not allow a division of the community as long as the BJP is in power at the Centre, and will also fight against it in future.”

Traditionally, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa, a Veerashaiva Lingayat himself, has been closely associated with the various spiritual heads of these mutts and is working hard to ensure that the Congress doesn’t sway the voters away.

The hectic interactions by Amit Shah forced the Congress president to do follow up rounds. The Congress president, who has late started visiting temples during poll campaigns, has ensured that he visits prominent mutts in the state. On Tuesday, he visited the 111-year-old Shivakumar Swamiji in Tumkuru to seek his blessings. The follow-up visits to the Lingayat mutts by Rahul Gandhi and self proclaimed atheist Chief Minister Siddaramaiah have forced Siddaramaiah to defend his move to divide the Hindus.

That vote bank politics is the key trigger for Siddaramaiah’s decision, now stands exposed.

The state, however, is in poll mode with the Lingayat issue becoming a key campaign issue, while other issues like development, farmers’ suicide, unemployment, murder of over 24 BJP-RSS workers, corruption etc., have taken a back seat.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Lok Sabha member Shobha Karnadlaje said: “Kannadigas will never forgive Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for his intention to divide Hindu society. For cheap vote bank politics, he is playing a dirty game. He cheated the whole community by dividing the leaders and Swamijis of Karnataka.”

One Reply to “BJP, Congress make a beeline for seers”

  1. When the BJP divides the community based on religion, it seems to be okay. If Congress does so by dividing the the leaders and Swamijis, then it is called Cheating, Cheap Vote bank politics ! They need to look at themselves in the mirror.

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