AS PART of efforts to bolster support for the BJP in Karnataka, party national president Amit Shah on Sunday visited a top seer of the dominant Vokkaliga community and released a book on a highly respected seer from the community. Shah visited head pontiff of the Adichunchungiri Mutt, Nirmalanandanath Swami, offered prayers at a temple at the mutt and released a book, Story of a Guru, on the late Bala Gangadharnath Swami. The move by Shah to visit the mutt is widely seen as an attempt by the BJP to win support among the Vokkaliga community in Karnataka, which has traditionally allied with the JD (S) of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda.
During his visit to the mutt located in the Gowda or Vokkaliga heartland of Mandya in south Karnataka, Shah also invoked memories of one of the founding fathers of the city of Bengaluru, Nadaprabhu Kempegowda, who is also highly regarded by the Vokkaligas. “I will fail in my duty if I don’t remember Nadaprabhu Kempegowda who was a follower of the Adichunchanagiri Mutt,” Shah said.
The BJP president said mutts and religious institutions play a key supporting role to governments in India. “It is only in India that mutts and religious institutions work along with the government and even more than the government for the welfare of society,” he said.
Shah is on a three-day tour of Karnataka to galvanise the BJP to rally behind state president and chief minister nominee B S Yeddyurappa amidst deep divisions in the party and opposition to Yeddyurappa’s style of functioning from a section of veteran state party leaders. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday sought to counter Shah’s allegations that the Congress government in the state is one of the most corrupt.
Speaking at a public event in north Karnataka, Siddaramaiah said the BJP would not be able to divide society in the state on communal lines since the spirit of secularism is deep rooted. As a result, he said, the BJP at the Centre would try to use central agencies to attack the Congress.
“Someone’s house may be raided. The ED and the CBI may be sent behind someone. I want to tell Shah that these things can be done only because communal activities or attempts to break the society is impossible as this is the land of Basavanna, Kuvempu and Kanakadasa whose seeds of secularism have grown into a huge tree today,” Siddaramaiah said.