The otherwise aggressive game-plan of BJP has received a major setback, as close to polls the Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramiah’s cabinet approved separate minority religion status to Lingayat and Veerashaiva-Lingayat groups.
With over 17 percent of the state’s population comprising Lingayat members that are spread across the state, the political parties are well aware that the section can be a major game changer in the upcoming polls. Relying on the recommendation of retired Justice Nagamohan Das-led seven-member panel, the Karnataka cabinet conveniently approved minority status to these groups. By passing the buck to the Central government, the Congress has now left a sword hanging over BJP’s head.
If the Central government gives assent to the demand, the Congress will claim credit – if it doesn’t, then the wrath of the Lingayat and Lingayat-Veerashaiva community members may cause a dent on BJP’s vote-bank. In the electoral history, Lingayat community has always favoured the BJP over other parties.
But post the Congress recommendation, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, whose otherwise claim to fame was as the dominant leader of the Lingayat community is now scampering to look for a new narrative to defuse the ploy by the Congress.
However, it’s not like the entire Lingayat community is going to be in awe with the Congress for its decision unless they start deriving the benefit. Certain section of the group has seen through the political timing of the decision. In fact in 2013, the then UPA government at the centre had turned down the demand for the ‘independent’ religion status by the group citing that it would further divide the society. Ironically, it has come into light that Yeddyurappa was a signatory to the petition sent to then PM Manmohan Singh under the banner of All India Veerashiva Mahasabha, but now has decided to remain mum.
With this latest move, of course the Congress-led government has made a dent in BJP’s armour, by beating the BJP in its own game of polarisation politics.
The community which has its presence spread at close to 100 of the 224 constituencies cannot be sidelined if the parties are serious about contesting the upcoming polls.
It was recently that the CM Siddaramaiah government unveiled what they declared a state flag and sent to the central government for approval. This along with the soft-Hindutva approach by the Congress, both are slowly paying their dividends to the party, at a time when they desperately looking to deflect the ‘nationalism’ overtones of the BJP campaign and before the model code by the Election Commission of India is in effect.