BJP chief Amit Shah on Saturday slammed the Siddaramaiah government and said the Congress govt wants to polarise Lingayat votes but the community is aware of it. In a press conference held in Mysuru, the BJP chief said: “This is a strategy to stop Yeddyurappa Ji from becoming Karnataka CM. They (Siddaramaiah govt) want to polarise Lingayat votes but community is aware of it. BJP will make its stance clear after polls.”
Shah, who is on a tour of Mysuru, Mandya and Ramanagara districts, said that his party would put up a good show during the polls in the old Mysuru region. His statement comes amid a political tussle between the Congress and BJP over granting minority status to Lingayats in Karnataka.
The BJP chief also lashed out at the Congress-led government in Karnataka saying people have decided to vote for change. “The people of Karnataka are disappointed with the state government on many issues the main one being corruption. The relation between Congress and corruption is like fish and water,” the BJP chief said adding that the relation is “unbreakable”,” he said. He also said, “Karnataka sarkar Congress party ke liye brashtachar ka ATM hai, iske alawa Karnataka ka koi mahatva Congress party ke liye nahi hai (Karnataka government is Congress’s ATM of corruption and nothing else).” All the parameters of development are on decline in Karnataka, Shah claimed. READ: Battle for Karnataka: Home Ministry note says minority tag denies Lingayats SC right
On Friday, Amit Shah called on the erstwhile royal family of Mysuru in what is being seen as an effort to draw their support for BJP. The family of Mysuru’s former ruler Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar still enjoys a great deal of goodwill among the people and the BJP is hoping to tap into this in a region where 65 of the 224 assembly seats are at stake, but the party lacks a strong leadership. OPINION: Lingayat-Veerashaiva standoff has much to do with changing power equations in Karnataka
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is the key leader from the Mysuru region, has not enjoyed good relations with the royal family on account of his opposition to according of royal status to the family despite establishment of privy purses in 1971 through the 26th constitutional amendment.
Electoral contest in old Mysuru region has been between the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) which is led by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda. The BJP could not secure even a single seat in these districts in the previous polls. Hassan, Chamarajnagar, Mysuru, Mandya and Ramanagara fall under old Mysuru region.
Meanwhile, as the tussle between the BJP and Congress is on over granting minority status to Lingayats, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in an internal note, has said that if given the minority tag, Lingayats would be “deprived” of Scheduled Caste status. The note also mentioned the move may have “widespread implications” if other sects of Hinduism also raise similar demands.
Before assembly elections in Karnataka were announced earlier this week, the Congress government in the state had decided to recommend to the Centre that religious minority status be granted to the Lingayat community. The move is expected to have a strong bearing on polls in the state, where Lingayats, a major BJP support base, form almost 17 per cent of the electorate.