Amit Shah sets ‘seering’ pace, Lingayats locked in

Tiptur: As BJP president Amit Shah Monday began a two day road show across critically important central Karnataka which holds the key to the powerful Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities as much as the SC-ST, topping the BJP president's agenda was seeking the blessings of Sri Shivakumara Swami of Siddhaganga Mutt in Tumakuru. 

The burly Shah fell at the feet of the revered seer of the Lingayat community in a bid to secure the Lingayat vote, driving home the message that the Congress government's move to accord separate religious minority status to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats was aimed at preventing BJP leader and Lingayat icon B S Yeddyurappa from becoming Chief Minister.

"This Siddaramaiah government has brought this proposal, not because it has love for Lingayats, but to prevent Yeddyurappa from becoming Chief Minister," he said addressing a Coconut Growers Convention here, as he began his two-day tour of election-bound Karnataka. "I want to tell Karnataka people that if BJP wins a majority, we will make Yeddyurappa Chief Minister," he added, signaling that Yeddyurappa remained their Lingayat mascot.

Shah's meeting with the revered seer  - and his marathon meeting with some 45 seers  of various mutts in Shivamogga district mainly from Lingayat community, along with other communities like the Idigas and Brahmins  at Bekkinakalmath –  is being seen as an attempt to reach out to the Lingayats/Veerashaivas, who are numerically and politically powerful in the state and form a major voter base for the BJP.

The visit assumes significance as it comes in the backdrop of the state government's move to recommend to the Centre to accord a religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats to try and wean away a section of them from BJP.

"Today I had the good fortune to seek blessings from the 'Walking God' Sri Sri Sri Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddhaganga Mutt, Tumakuru. His tireless work even at his advanced age is inspiring. His life is a living lesson and guiding light for all of us," Shah said in a tweet.  

The state cabinet had recently decided to recommend to the Centre to accord religious minority status to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, in a move seen as an attempt to chip away at the BJP's strong Lingayat voter base.

Shah said that the proposal, which was rejected by the then Manmohan Singh government at the Centre in 2013, was only aimed at creating confusion among people.

He also criticised the Siddaramiah government for not bringing in the proposal earlier.

"The Siddaramaiah government has proposed to accord religion and minority status to Lingayats, but why did it not do it earlier? Because at that time, there was no need for  votes," the BJP president said.

He, however, believed that the people of the state would not be enticed by Siddaramaiah's "divide-and-rule politics." 

Congress President Rahul Gandhi should first point fingers at Siddaramaiah for dividing people before accusing BJP of it, Shah said.

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Note from Kannada.Club :

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