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Amit Shah meets Karnataka’s 110-year-old Lingayat seer

IANS | Tumakuru (Karnataka) |

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Monday sought blessings of 110-year-old Lingayat seer Shivakumara Swami of the Siddaganga Mutt here for the party’s success in the ensuing assembly elections in the state due in April-May.

“I felt like seeing God when I met the revered pontiff. I sought his blessings for our party’s success in the state assembly election,” Shah told reporters later here, about 70 km from Bengaluru.

Shah also expressed happiness that the popular Lingayat Mutt runs 125 educational institutions across the state and was involved in many pro-people programmes.

“The seer has succeeded in bringing all sections of society together through education,” Shah said.

Shah’s meeting with the pontiff comes a week after the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state decided on March 19 to recognise Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats as a religion.

On March 23, the state government had notified the minority religion status to the followers of 12th century social reformer Basava, amid protests by few communities, in a bid to woo the dominant community of Lingayats (17 per cent), ahead of the state polls.

The BJP, whose Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa is a Lingayat, saw the Congress move as an attempt to divide the Hindu votes.

Shah’s visit to the Mutt is seen by political observers as an attempt to ensure the dominant Lingayats back his party.

Shah, who is on a two-day visit to the state since Monday, will be interacting with coconut and areca nut growers and traders in the district during the day.

He will also be holding road shows and visiting other Mutts in the interior districts of the state.