Lingayat issue fails to dent BJP’s vote bank in Karnataka polls

Ministers Vinay Kulkarni, Sharanprakash Patil and Basavaraj Rayareddy, who were in the forefront of the movement, which the BJP had termed as an effort to divide the Hindu community, lost.

Published: 16th May 2018 05:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2018 05:31 AM   |  A+A-

BJP’s campaign portraying Congress as anti-Hindu and the party that is trying to divide the community for political gains seemed to have had more appeal among the voters. | EPS

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: The Congress’ efforts to get support from the Lingayats by according minority religion status to the community seem to have hardly had any impact and in fact it seemed to have worked against the party to some extent in the recent polls. Many ministers involved in the statewide campaign demanding minority religion status for the community lost the assembly elections. However, Lingayat religion was one of that many factors that led to their defeat.

Ministers Vinay Kulkarni, Sharanprakash Patil and Basavaraj Rayareddy, who were in the forefront of the movement, which the BJP had termed as an effort to divide the Hindu community, lost the elections.

However, Water Resources Minister MB Patil, who led the campaign, won from Babaleshwar constituency. In Babaleshwar, it was portrayed as the battle between the seers of Panchapeetta and M B Patil.

According to a political analyst, though some sections of Lingayats supported the government move to accord minority religion tag , BJP’s campaign portraying Congress as anti-Hindu and the party that is trying to divide the community for political gains seemed to have had more “emotional appeal” among the voters.

The Congress has been maintaining that it was not an election issue and the government had only considered long-standing demand of the community, that too after constituting a committee headed by a former judge of the High Court. However, the speed at which the committee had given its report and the government’s acceptance of it had raised many a eyebrows. It was seen as an attempt to dent BJP’s Lingayat votebank. The community that constitutes around 16-17% of the total population in the state had backed BJP in the last few polls.

However, during the elections, the Congress had not made it an issue fearing backlash from the community. The BJP used it as an issue to target Congress. During their rallies, many BJP leaders termed it as an attempt by the Congress government to divide the community and even stop a Lingayat from becoming a Chief Minister. Also, to woo members of the community, senior leaders from Congress and BJP visited prominent Lingayat mutts in Tumukuru and Mysuru, apart from Basavakalayan in Bidar district. “Going by the results in Lingayat heartland of Hyderabad-Karnataka, Mumbai-Karnataka and Central-Karnataka, its is clear that the community still backs BJP and the decision hardly had any impact,” said an analyst.



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