After Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah Lands in Karnataka With Eye on Lingayat Votes
Amit Shah seek the blessings of Shivakumara Swamy, the 110-year-old who is the head of the Siddanganga mutt in Tumkur. (Image: News18)
Bengaluru: The temples and Lingayat mutts in Karnataka were never in such demand. After Congress president Rahul Gandhi's whirlwind tour of temples in Malnad, coastal and south Karnataka, BJP president Amit Shah will tour south central Karnataka on Monday and Tuesday.
Keeping Siddaramaiah government's decision to accord separate religion tag to Lingayats in mind, Shah has carefully planned his tour. In the next two days, he will be visiting four important Lingayat mutts in the state.
The BJP chief will seek the blessings of Shivakumara Swamy, the 110-year-old who is the head of the Siddanganga mutt in Tumkur.
The highly respected seer is a non-controversial figure and his junior pontiff has welcomed state government's decision on Lingayats.
From Tumkur, Shah will take a helicopter ride to Shimoga, around 200km away. BJP's chief ministerial face BS Yeddyurappa hails from Shimoga and party is anything but united here. The factions backing Yeddyurappa and opposing him have been at each other's throat causing public embarrassment to the party.
The OBC leader of the BJP, K S Eshwarappa, is adamant about obtaining a ticket from Shimoga city but Yeddyurappa is not keen on fielding him from there.
Shah is likely to strike a deal between two warring factions during his visit to Shimoga, the nerve centre of central Karnataka politics.
The JDS has made inroads into Shimoga district politics and has three MLAs here. According to local JDS strongman and MLA, Madhu Bangarappa, the party will win at least four seats out of total seven this time.
The ruling Congress is up against a strong BJP and JDS in this politically important district.
Shah will also visit an ancient Lingayat mutt, Bekkina Kalmata. in Shimoga. On Tuesday, he will fly to neighbouring commercial centre Davanagere. It is a Lingayat stronghold where Yeddyurappa wields considerable clout.
The BJP chief will meet powetful Lingayat seer Dr Shivamurthy Shivacharya of Tharalabalu mutt at Sirigere seeking his support. According to Congress leaders, the seer is backing the separate religion for Lingayats movement.
On Tuesday evening, Shah will visit Dalit seer Madara Channaiah Swamy at Chitradurga. Swamy is seeking a BJP ticket in the Assembly elections.
The BJP president will then fly Kuppalli in Shimoga district to pay respects to poet laureate Kuvempu. One of Kannada's all-time greats, Kuvempu died in 1994 and the state government has converted his ancestral home into a memorial.
State BJP leaders admit that the party’s top leadership is assessing the situation after the Karnataka government’s decision to accord religious minorities tag to the powerful Lingayats who form about 14% of the state's population.