Karnataka Veerashaiva Lingayat Forum Extends Support to Congress, Setback for BJP

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NEW DELHI – The Veerashaiva Lingayat forum, a powerful group of the Lingayat sect, has issued an open letter supporting the Congress in the May 10 elections for the Karnataka Assembly.

The forum has urged the members of the Lingayat community to vote for the Congress candidates in the elections. The Lingayat community has been a traditional vote bank of the BJP and since the 1980s the party leader B.S. Yediyurappa, who is from the community, had worked tirelessly to develop the Lingayat support and base.

However, with reports of Yediyurappa being sidelined and senior leader with honest credentials and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar denied a seat from his bastion, Hubbali, the community is in anger against the BJP. Jagadish Shettar has openly lashed out stating that BJP national organising secretary, B.L.Santhosh, a Brahmin, denied him a ticket. There is a message that the BJP was trying to systematically reduce the influence of the Lingayat community in BJP.

The Lingayat is a powerful community with 17 per cent strength in Karnataka and the state had nine Lingayat Chief Ministers.

Congress leaders, Shamanur Shivasankarappa and Jagadish Shetter met the seers of the Lingayat community at Hubbali on Sunday morning. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had visited Sangamantha temple last week, which is the sacred Samadhi of the Lingayat sect founder, Basaveswhara also known as Basavanna.

With elections on May 10, the support extended by a section of the powerful Lingayat sect has given huge boost to the Congress. -IANS

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