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Karnataka verdict | Siddaramaiah’s Lingayat gamble backfires

Siddharamiah had decided to grant minority religion tag to a small section of the Lingayat community, which follows the teachings of 12th century saint Basavanna, much to the annoyance of the Veershaiva Lingayats

Statesman News Service | Bengaluru |

Chief minister Siddharamiah’s gamble to divide the dominant Lingayat community by granting minority religion tag to a small section of the community which follows the teachings of the 12th century saint, Basavanna, has bombed.

This is evident from the Assembly election results, declared on Tuesday, which saw the BJP becoming the single largest party in the state bagging 104 of the 222 Assembly seats, polls for which were held on 12 May. The ruling Congress managed 78 seats while the JD-S accounted for 37.

Over ten of the sitting ministers lost in a tough contest, including law minister
T B Jayachandra, Ramnath Rai and Vinay Kulkarni. The latter had spearheaded the movement for the grant of a separate religion tag to the Lingayats. His defeat is considered as a slap in the face of the Congress for its attempt to
divide the dominant community.

Conversely, however, another major leader of the movement, M B Patil, water resources minister in the Siddharamiah government, sailed through from Bableshwar in Vijapura, with a margin of 27 000 votes. Together the two Congress leaders had made a determined bid to divide the Lingayat community leading Siddharamiah to grant the followers of Basava a separate religion tag, much to the annoyance of the Veershaiva Lingayats.

Even though the discontent within the community did not come out in the open during the elections, at least it was not visible, the final results appear to prove that the chief minister’s decision did prove costly for the ruling party.

For the Congress, the defeat comes as a rude shock because it was banking on dividing the dominant Lingayat community which has tended to support the BJP , especially, its chief ministerial candidate and community leader B S Yeddyurappa.

Under Siddharamiah, the party had carefully planned the division, having learnt from the manner in which the BJP lost the 2013 polls. The party lost power that year as the Lingayat votes got split after Yeddyurappa separated from his parent party to form the Karnataka Janata Paksh.

Obviously, this ploy did not work for the Congress.

According to information available here, the BJP seems to have done well in the Lingayat-dominant belt of the state.

What perhaps gives the Opposition party the most satisfaction is that chief minister Siddharamiah lost to JDS’ G T Deve Gowda by a margin of over 36,000 in Chamundeshwari. The consolation for him though came in Badami, which he won against BJP’s backward caste leader, Sriramulu, even if with a small margin of 1,600.

The Yeddyurappa-led party, meanwhile, swept Udupi district winning all the five seats. It also decimated the ruling Congress winning seven of the eight seats from Dakshina Kannada where the ruling party was holding sway till recently.

In a related development, HD Kumaraswamy of the JDS braved the competition in Ramanagara and Chennapatna, the two constituencies from which he contested. Now he will need to vacate one.

BJP’s Yeddyurappa, himself had a comfortable win from his constituency in Shikaripura just as Siddharamiah’s son, Yathindra, sailed through comfortably in Varuna, a seat vacated for him by his father.