In a two-day tour of the election-bound Karnataka starting Thursday, BJP president Amit Shah is scheduled to visit key places in Mumbai-Karnataka region, in north-west part of the state, that holds symbolic value for the BJP’s core vote base. These include places of significance to the Lingayat community, seen as core BJP supporters, and important Hindu temples and mutts.
The BJP lost the majority of the 50 seats in the region in 2013 although this part of the state is considered a party stronghold, given the Lingayat and Hindu populace. Shah’s visit is being seen as an effort to negate the support the Congress may have gained in the community after the Siddaramaiah government last month recommended the status of independent religion for Lingayats.
While political events like protests against the Congress government and a public meeting is scheduled during the visit, much of Shah’s time will go in visiting places of symbolic importance to key constituents in BJP’s support base. He is scheduled to begin his tour with a visit to Siddarudh mutt in Hubli on Thursday. The mutt is an important centre of the advaita philosophy and was set up over a hundred years ago by Swami Siddarudh. He will subsequently visit a museum built in memory of renowned Kannada poet and Jnanpith awardee D R Bhendre in Dharwad.
After participating in a protest against the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government and an event for grain collection to express solidarity with farmers, the BJP president is scheduled to visit a memorial built for late Hindustani classical musician Puttaraj Gawai, who set to music vachanas written by the founder of Lingayat faith Basavanna and made them religious songs.
Shah is also set to visit the 2nd century Veeranarayan Temple in Gadag region and a 12th century Lingayat mutt, Moorusavira Mutt in Hubli, which runs several educational institutions.
A section of BJP leaders led by former deputy CM K S Eshwarappa floated a Sangolli Rayanna Brigade a few months ago to rally support for the BJP. “The BJP national president will participate in a protest against the undemocratic policies of the Congress government in Karnataka and its divisive politics in Dharwad,” BJP general secretary Shobha Karandlaje said.