Bommai ‘insulted’, BSY ‘ignored’... Lingayats feel saffron party sidelining their community
Analysts pointed out that the BJP got a lesser number of Lingayat votes in the recent Assembly elections as the community felt alienated.
BENGALURU: As per tradition, a former chief minister becomes the opposition leader in Karnataka and this time, Basavaraj Bommai should have got the post, said Veerashaiva Mahasabha Secretary Renuka Prasanna.“The very fact that they (BJP leadership) have not appointed him as opposition leader and kept the post vacant shows that they are insulting Bommai, who is a Lingayat. They are proposing other names,
playing mind games with Bommai and insulting him in public, so that he says in frustration that he is not interested in it,” he said.
Analysts pointed out that the BJP got a lesser number of Lingayat votes in the recent Assembly elections as the community felt alienated. What will the party’s prospects be in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, they asked.
Political analyst BS Murthy said, “A narrative is being built in the Lingayat community against BJP National General Secretary BL Santhosh, who is increasingly being seen as the one who stands against the interests of the community. It started with his video that went viral before the elections, where he is alleged to have said BJP needs to depend more on Hindutva votes than Lingayat support. The statements of (former CM) Jagadish Shettar, MP Renukacharya, Pradeep Shettar and other Lingayat leaders have only increased the perception of a divide between BJP and Lingayats.”
In the Karnataka political landscape, the only mass leader who matches up to Siddaramaiah of Congress HD Deve Gowda and HD Kumaraswamy of JDS is BS Yediyurappa. As Santhosh slowly sinks into the trap of the “enemy of Lingayats”, the central leadership will find itself under great pressure. Bommai is seen as someone remotely controlled by the party and he cannot fill in Yediyurappa’s giant shoes, he added.
Congress is talking of winning 20 Lok Sabha seats out of 28 in the state. BJP leaders realise that Congress victory will be at the cost of BJP, which holds 25 seats. If Yediyurappa is not brought back into the centre stage, the BJP will find it difficult to hold ground. Like in Kerala, where the party used the services of E Sreedharan, who was then 88 years old — well over the party’s retirement age of 75, the party now has to look at Yediyurappa, who is 80 years old, he said.
Sources said that recently, right-wing groups approached many Lingayat seers to make a statement against Udayanidhi Stalin’s Sanatan Dharma comment, but none obliged.
If Yediyuyrappa were to be in charge, he would have got at least a few seers to respond. “If this is not Lingayat disenchantment, what is,” they asked.
BJP MLC Adagur Vishwanath said, “Modi was here to wish the ISRO team. If he was concerned he could have invited Bommai or Parliamentary Board Member Yediyurappa or other tall BJP leaders to the airport to receive him. That he preferred to have bureaucrats receive him is an insult to so many people, especially Bommai and the state leadership.”