Riding on the wave of victory in four of the five state assemblies, the central leadership of the BJP has now turned their focus towards Karnataka, which is expected to go to polls in 2023. Union home minister Amit Shah’s visit to the southern state is being seen as the party top brass’ early steps towards drawing the election road map for the state unit.
On April 1, the BJP’s master strategist, Shah will participate in the 115th birth anniversary of the late pontiff Sri Shivakumara Swami at the Siddaganga Mutt.
The Siddaganga Mutt is a prominent and influential Lingayat religious institution, which leaders of political parties visit, especially during the election season, to earn the favour of the Lingayat community. Lingayats constitute around 16-17% of Karnataka’s population and are a politically powerful class.
Former chief minister BS Yediyurappa has the strong backing of this mutt, which stood by the leader last year amidst speculations of a change in leadership. The Lingayat mutt heads had appealed to the BJP to allow Yediyurappa to complete his term.
BY Vijayendra, BJP’s state vice-president, and Yediyurappa’s son, is in charge of the arrangement ahead of Shah’s visit to the mutt — a move seen as former CM’s attempt to send a message to the BJP central leadership over his stature as the most influential leader of the Lingayat community.
Shah had sought the blessings of Shivakumara Swami ahead of the 2018 assembly polls in order to reach out to the Lingayats.
Interestingly, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will also visit the same Tumakuru based-mutt, a day earlier than Shah, to pay his respects at the tomb of Sri Shivakumara Swami.
Confirming Gandhi’s visit, Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar spoke of how the Gandhi family has been closely associated with Siddaganga and the Congress drew inspiration from the mutt’s tradition of mid-day meals to start the scheme for the schoolchildren in Karnataka.
On the same day, Shah will also visit Muddenahalli in Chikkaballapur district to participate in the ground breaking ceremony of a new medical college. Being the country’s first Union minister for cooperation, Shah will participate in the Sahakara Sammelana (conference of cooperatives) at the Palace Grounds, where he will be releasing the logo of the state government’s proposed ‘Nandini Ksheera Abhivruddi Bank’ and relaunch the ‘Yeshashwini’ Scheme.
Karnataka BJP is seen battling allegations of polarisation as it finds itself embroiled in several controversies such as the ban on hijab in classes, call made by BJP leaders to ban Halal meat, the anti-conversion bill among others.
With inputs from News18