Saffron army out in support of Dingaleshwar seer

Supporters of Joshi remain unfazed
Dingaleshwar Swamiji
Dingaleshwar Swamiji

BENGALURU: In a historic first in recent electoral history, an army of saffron will campaign against the BJP. Saffron-clad Lingayat swamijis have volunteered to fan out across the Dharwad countryside and seek votes “to save Lingayat honour and dignity”.

The Dingaleshwar swamiji, though, has cautioned them, saying, “I don’t want swamijis to reach the streets for this.’’ He told TNIE, “My conscience will not allow me to use my supporters and swamijis for this, although dozens have volunteered to get on the streets to fight for my cause.’’

Many swamijis have volunteered to visit houses across eight assembly constituencies, where there are about 6-7 lakh Lingayat voters. They are expected to help Swami Dingaleshwara fight for ‘Lingayat honour’, and visit voters to seek support for him.”

The swami said, “Saffron-clad swamijis should not get on to the streets, kaavi dhaari beedige ilibaradu.” There are about 18-19 lakh voters and about 12-13 lakh have exercised their franchise in the previous polls. Lingayats are traditionally BJP supporters, but this time all that could change.”

Yet, the supporters of Union minister Pralhad Joshi are unfazed, and say he won the 2019 poll by about 2 lakh votes, the 2014 election by about 1.1 lakh votes and in 2009, the winning margin was about 1.35 lakh votes. “The people are with us and there is very little they can do to defeat Pralhad Joshi. People understand it is about national issues,” they said.

Joshi had with him former CM B S Yediyurappa and Jagadish Shettar, former Dharwad MP Vijay Sankeshwar and many Lingayat leaders while filing nominations. But Dingaleshwara Swamiji, asked about Lingayat leaders on Joshi’s side said, “Lingayat leaders are scared of Joshi and his clout in the BJP, they are petrified to even talk about him.’’


The talk in local Congress circles is that party candidate Vinod Asuti is no match for Pralhad Joshi, and internal surveys and inquiries show the Congress candidate would need to work much harder to win against Joshi. There was also talk that Congress could support the swamiji to ensure they win Dharwad. Some leaders shot it down, saying that now that B-Forms have been issued, it will not mean loss of face for the party if they talk of change. Some senior leaders had also expressed apprehension about fielding religious leaders, saying the Congress has always worked in a secular space.

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