London/Bengaluru, April 18 (IANS) With Lingayats at the centre of attention in the upcoming Karnataka elections, it was the turn of political rivals from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in London to Chief Minister Siddaramiah on Wednesday to vie for the votes of the community.
Modi, on a visit to the United Kingdom, paid floral tributes at the bust of Lord Basaveshwara, the founder of Lingayat stream of thought, on the occasion of Basava Jayanti on Wednesday. The bust was unveiled by Modi on the banks of river Thames during his visit to London three years ago.
In Bengaluru, BJP President Amit Shah began a two-day election tour of the state by garlanding the statue of Basaveshvara while a little earlier the Chief Minister had offered his respects by garlanding the statue in Mysuru.
BJP MP and a confidante of the party’s Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa, Shoba Karandlaje, even said that Siddaramiah should not be allowed to garland the statute.
State Home Minister B. Ramalinga Reddy hit back: “Who is Shoba Karandlaje to stop the Chief Minister? Basaveshwara is not the private property of anyone. He is universal.”
The Congress government in Karnataka took the BJP by surprise with its recommendation for according Lingayats the status of a minority religion, a demand being raised by the community for long.
The BJP, which was once the supporter of the cause, is playing it safe this time without openly backing it.
G.B. Patil, General Secretary of the Lingayat Mahasabha, said the community was not impressed by the Prime Minister’s gesture in London. The BJP has not come out in the open and supported the minority status for the community, he said.