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Birth anniversary of Lingayat seer likely to be show of strength in Karnataka BJP for sidelined Yediyurappa, son

The event marking the 115th birth anniversary of Lingayat seer Siddalinga Shivakumar Swami to be held in Tumkur on April 1 will be attended by Home Minister Amit Shah.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
March 29, 2022 12:14:03 pm
Karnataka BJP. yediyurappa, Yediyurappa son, B Y Vijayendra, Lingayat seer, Karnataka Lingayat seer, Karnakar news, Political pulse, Indian expressYediyurappa with his sons B Y Vijayendra (to his left) and B Y Raghavendra after the 2018 assembly polls. )(File)

An event marking the 115th birth anniversary of Lingayat seer Siddalinga Shivakumar Swami to be held in Karnataka’s Tumkur on April 1, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in attendance, is expected to be a show of strength by former chief minister B S Yediyurappa and his son B Y Vijayendra, currently sidelined by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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Yediyurappa (79), who was forced to resign as the chief minister of Karnataka in July 2021 on account of his advancing age, is the chairperson of the celebration while his son is the chairman of the reception committee. The event on April 1, in memory of the Tumkur Siddaganga mutt seer who died in 2019, is widely seen as signalling the start of electioneering for the Karnataka Legislative Assembly polls scheduled for 2023.

The event is being held in the backdrop of a BJP decision not to bestow Vijayendra any special political powers in the run-up to the state polls while insisting that the former chief minister and his son pull their weight for the BJP.

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Vijayendra, who has been projected as the heir to the political legacy of Lingayat strongman Yediyurappa, is pulling out all the stops to make the April 1 birth anniversary celebration a mega event with lakhs of people in attendance – in what will be perceived as a sign of the clout still enjoyed by the Yediyurappa clan in the dominant Lingayat community.

“We will appeal to the central government to confer the country’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, to Shivakumar Swamiji,” BJP state vice-president Vijayendra said last week in Tumkur during a briefing on the arrangements for the mega event.

Since the BJP’s big win in four states in the recently conducted assembly elections, a message has been conveyed to the former Karnataka CM Yediyurappa and his family that the party would not be granting any special favours to the family, especially in the light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statements that promotion of dynastic politics is casteist in nature and detrimental to development.

In the light of the indication that the BJP is not comfortable with dynastic politics, Yediyurappa and his son Vijayendra – who was earlier aspiring to be in a dominant position in BJP politics in Karnataka – have indicated they will bide their time and follow party policies.

The Lingayat community which makes up nearly 17 per cent of the Karnataka population – the largest single caste block – has supported Yediyurappa and the BJP for the last two decades. The BJP central leadership, however, is keen on breaking the stranglehold that individual caste-based leaders, like Yediyurappa, have over the party, and vest greater control with collective and central leadership, BJP sources said.

“The party does not want to fall into the trap of being dependent on one single leader controlling the entire state unit – as it was in the past with Yediyurappa. This could happen again if Vijayendra is given sudden prominence,” BJP sources said.

Vijayendra, following a visit to meet BJP national president J P Nadda earlier this month – on the eve of the results for the five state polls – stated that he is not aspiring to a position in the cabinet of the BJP government in Karnataka. He claimed that he was ready to carry out work to build the BJP in Karnataka as a regular party worker.

The former chief minister’s son, however, is expected to rally all the Lingayat religious leaders in Karnataka – with whom his father has nurtured strong bonds – to mobilise participation in the April 1 event.

Yediyurappa is known to enjoy wide support in the Lingayat community in Karnataka and is still widely recognised as its foremost leader in the state as Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has not managed to emerge as a strong Lingayat leader in his brief tenure so far.

Meanwhile, Congress on Monday anointed Lingayat leader M B Patil as the chairman of the Congress election campaign committee for the 2023 polls.

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First published on: 29-03-2022 at 12:14:03 pm

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