BENGALURU: For two days now, seers of various religious institutions have been visiting Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa at his residence in a show of solidarity. Even as he refuses to speak to the media about it directly, Yediyurappa and his team have been bullishly highlighting this show of solidarity. The support comes at a time speculations are rife that Yediyurappa has been asked to resign as Chief Minister and make way for new leadership.
While Yediyurappa is said to have agreed to go, it seems he isn’t going out without a show of strength. Those from the CM’s camp insist that the wave of support coming his way — whether from Lingayat leaders of the BJP or the Congress, or religious leaders — shows that he remains the mass leader of the party. Others from within the BJP say this is Yediyurappa’s attempt to convey that he still wields a lot of influence and cannot be mistaken to be redundant by the party’s central leadership.
“Lingayat seers are making a beeline to support Yediyurappa on one hand, but most Lingayat leaders within the party have not shown such explicit support. In fact, the loudest critics of the CM and those eyeing his chair are from the community.
Who should we think influence voters more? Seers or legislators?” asked a senior legislator of the BJP who has been an intermediary between State and Central leadership of the party for decades. Sources in the party believe that religious leaders closing ranks in support of Yediyurappa — much like in 2011, when he was forced to quit as CM — is the 78-year-old Lingayat strongman’s message to the party’s central leadership that he can still cause considerable damage to the party if his terms on the imminent change of guard are not met.While many seers have warned BJP of complete annihilation if Yediyurappa is forced out, others don’t mind a change of guard as long as the new man at the top hails from the community.
“It is a misconception that a community circumambulate around just one person. The community is not dependent on one leader. Change is imminent and my appeal to religious leaders is to leave it to the MLAs to choose the Chief Minister. It is not the job of seers to decide on that,” Kudalasangama Panchamasali Peetha’s pontiff Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swamy told The New Indian Express. The seer led the Panchamasali agitation earlier this year demanding 2A reservation status for the Lingayat sub-sect, which dented Yediyurappa’s image.