BJP looks to cash in on Lingayat sentiments this time too

The state BJP has given a new spin to the Siddaramaiah governments controversial decision to accord religious minority tag to Lingayat-Veerashaiva (Basava tatva) as a conspiracy against B S Yeddyurappa to prevent him from becoming chief minister.

According to party sources, it is a politically calculated move, and the saffron party will be repeatedly using the conspiracy angle at various conventions till election day, to turn the issue to its advantage.

Shah, during his recent tour of the state, mentioned it twice – while addressing a coconut growers conference at Tiptur in Tumakuru district and then at a press conference in Davangere. Yeddyurappa is considered an influential Lingayat leader and hence, the party declared him its chief ministerial candidate nearly two years ago.

The government, last week, notified its decision to accord religious minority status to Lingayat/Veerashaiva (those who follow Basavannas principles) and forwarded the same to the Centre in a move seen as an attempt to chip away at the BJPs strong Lingayat voter base. The BJP has been treading cautiously and has adopted a wait-and-watch approach on the issue as the matter has huge electoral implications. However, with the powerful Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha opposing the governments move and objecting to the inclusion of the term Basava tatva, the BJP has decided to go for the kill.

Inciting Lingayat sentiments for electoral gains is nothing new to the BJP and it has done so at least twice in the past, fetching it rich electoral dividends. The abrupt and humiliating sacking of Veerendra Patil, a prominent Lingayat leader, as chief minister by Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 did not go down well with the community. The BJP, which was just an emerging party then, portrayed it as an anti-Lingayat stand taken by the Congress.

Political observers see this episode as a turning point in the states history with Lingayats, then largely supporting the Congress, ditching the party to favour the BJP in a bid to vent their anger. The Congress eventually lost control of the state in the December 1994 Assembly elections.

The betrayal card played by the party against the JD(S) for not keeping its promise to hand over power to the BJP in 2008 as per the 20-20 agreement, thus denying Yeddyurappa the chief ministerial post, also paid rich dividends to the BJP. With 110 seats, it emerged as the single largest party in the 2008 elections and Yeddyurappa became the chief minister.

The state BJP has given a new spin to the Siddaramaiah government’s controversial decision to accord religious minority tag to Lingayat-Veerashaiva (Basava tatva) as a conspiracy against B S Yeddyurappa to prevent him from becoming chief minister.

According to party sources, it is a politically calculated move, and the saffron party will be repeatedly using the conspiracy angle at various conventions till election day, to turn the issue to its advantage.

Shah, during his recent tour of the state, mentioned it twice – while addressing a coconut growers’ conference at Tiptur in Tumakuru district and then at a press conference in Davangere. Yeddyurappa is considered an influential Lingayat leader and hence, the party declared him its chief ministerial candidate nearly two years ago.

The government, last week, notified its decision to accord religious minority status to Lingayat/Veerashaiva (those who follow Basavanna’s principles) and forwarded the same to the Centre in a move seen as an attempt to chip away at the BJP’s strong Lingayat voter base. The BJP has been treading cautiously and has adopted a wait-and-watch approach on the issue as the matter has huge electoral implications. However, with the powerful Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha opposing the government’s move and objecting to the inclusion of the term Basava tatva, the BJP has decided to go for the kill.

Inciting Lingayat sentiments for electoral gains is nothing new to the BJP and it has done so at least twice in the past, fetching it rich electoral dividends. The abrupt and humiliating sacking of Veerendra Patil, a prominent Lingayat leader, as chief minister by Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 did not go down well with the community. The BJP, which was just an emerging party then, portrayed it as an anti-Lingayat stand taken by the Congress.

Political observers see this episode as a turning point in the state’s history with Lingayats, then largely supporting the Congress, ditching the party to favour the BJP in a bid to vent their anger. The Congress eventually lost control of the state in the December 1994 Assembly elections.

The ‘betrayal card’ played by the party against the JD(S) for not keeping its promise to hand over power to the BJP in 2008 as per the 20-20 agreement, thus denying Yeddyurappa the chief ministerial post, also paid rich dividends to the BJP. With 110 seats, it emerged as the single largest party in the 2008 elections and Yeddyurappa became the chief minister.

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