For Lingayat votes, PM, CM, Shah beat Basava drum

BENGALURU: Twelfth century philosopher and social reformer Basaveshwara's birth anniversary on Wednesday could well go down in history as an event nonpareil, and the possible election game-changer in pollbound Karnataka with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah set to lead the party's celebrations, albeit thousands of kms apart, as part of their strategy to help BJP retain its hold over Lingayats and Veerashaivas. 

Master tacticians, both leaders are doing everything they can to skew the gameplan of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to wean away Lingayats through a controversial move in recommending separate religion status for them, and even recommended their minority status to the Union government, in the run-up to Assembly elections on May 12. 

In London, Mr Modi will participate in Basava Jayanti celebrations organized on the banks of the river Thames and garland a bust of Basaveshwara while Amit Shah will commence his two-day tour of Bengaluru and neighbouring areas by garlanding the statue of Basaveshwara in Bangaluru.

On the eve of the birth anniversary, Ms Shobha Karandlaje, Member of Parliament, appealed to members of the numerically significant community not to allow Mr Siddaramaiah to participate in Basava Jayanti celebrations as the leader allegedly tried to drive a wedge between Veerashaivas and Lingayats and thus prevent state BJP president B S Yeddyurappa from staging a come-back as Chief Minister. “In the past many tall leaders from Veerashaiva/Lingayat community have occupied the position of Chief Minister, and never thought of dividing the society in the name of Basavanna, but Mr Siddaramaiah did it just to prevent Mr Yeddyurappa from returning as Chief Minister," she said.

Unfazed by the high-decible celebrations of BJP leaders, Mr Siddaramaiah called on Shri Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji of Suttur Mutt and sought his blessings while campaigning for his son, Dr Yathindra, in Varuna constituency. He was accompanied by his son, PWD minister H.C. Mahadevappa, and Mr R Dhruvanarayan, Member of Parliament, on Tuesday. The CM had met the seer along with party president Rahul Gandhi in Mysuru last week to seek his blessings and his support for the party.

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