Will Lingayat issue backfire for CM here?

Hubballi: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah may have decided to play it safe by contesting  both from Badami and Chamundeshwari in Mysuru these coming assembly polls, but it will be no cakewalk for him in the North Karnataka constituency. 

While the Congress is banking heavily on the Kuruba votes in Badami,  it could find itself in trouble should the  Lingayat issue backfire on it. The Kurubas account for nearly 50, 000 of the  2.15 lakh voters in the constituency, and Lingayats around 60,000.

The Chief Minister, who is a Kuruba himself, can bank upon the votes of his community, but it’s not certain how the Lingayats will vote as they are reportedly not keen on the demand for independent religion status. The presence of Shivayogi Mandir, a prestigious Veerashaiva math set up by Hangal Kumar Swamiji over a century ago to train and educates the community’s seers in the area, may have something to do with it. It was Hangal Kumar Swamiji,  who established the Akhil Bharat Veerashaiva Mahasabha that has been in the forefront of the battle against independent religious status for Lingayats and the recent visit of BJP national president, Amit Shah to the math and his assurance that he will not allow division of the community has re-energised the Veerashaiva seers, who have been vehemently opposing the minority tag.

The BJP, which was planning to field one of the two local contenders from Badami  if Mr Siddaramaiah stayed away from it,  could now opt for stronger candidates like Member of Parliament P C Gaddigoudar or Valmiki strongman, V Sriramulu to take him on. 

While Mr Siddaramaiah himself may find the going tough in Badami, his decision to contest from it could help resolve the internal bickering among Congress party aspirants, who will now have to work together to ensure his victory. Also, several leaders from North Karnataka like KPCC working president, S.R. Patil and Minister M.B. Patil believe that his decision  to contest from Badami will improve the wining chances of other Congress candidates in the region. 

Meanwhile, the JD(S) has announced former ZP vice-president and Panchamasali-Lingayat leader, Hanumant Mavinamarad as its candidate from Badami. He is expected to dent the vote share of the Congress by his appeal to the Lingayats and the traditional AHINDA vote-bank. The scheduled caste and tribes are 46,000 strong and Muslims and the weavers’ community account for 25,000 voters in the constituency.

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