Amid speculation about a change of leadership in Karnataka, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa received the support of senior Congress leaders from the Lingayat community and seers from various mutts in the state.
Former minister and Congress leader M B Patil on Monday said the Lingayat community will be displeased with the BJP central leaders if they remove its strongman Yediyurappa as the chief minister. Patil, who also belongs to the Lingayat community, said, “this is my personal view that the BJP should conduct itself with dignity and respect considering the age and contributions of Yediyurappa to the state.”
Shamanur Shivashankarappa, the Congress MLA of Davangere (South), urged the BJP high command to persist with Yediyurappa. Shivashankarappa, the national president of the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, warned the BJP he would stand in solidarity with Yediyurappa if he is forced to step down.
On Tuesday, a delegation of seers from various mutts met Yediyurappa at his official residence. Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, head of the Chitradurga-based Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra Mutt, on Tuesday in a statement warned BJP that the party would face big consequences if Yediyurappa is replaced.
“Yediyurappa is among the great statesmen-politicians that the state has seen, and he is a force. Because of Yediyurappa, BJP was able to win elections in south India and form a stable government in Karnataka,” Murugha Sharanaru added.
Sri Veera Someshwara Shivacharya Swami of Rambhapuri Peetha of Balehonnur, and Srisaila Jagadguru Channa Siddharama Panditaradhya have also backed Yediyurappa.
“Friction is common in politics, let anyone say anything, but we have confidence that BS Yediyurappa will continue as the chief minister and complete the term. If there are any shortcomings in this, it will have big consequences for the party,” Veera Someshwara Shivacharya Swami said.
Yediyurappa, who returned from New Delhi on Saturday, did not issue any statement so far to emphasise his continuance in office for the remaining two years of the BJP government’s tenure.
While support is pouring from seers and political leaders cutting across party lines for 78-year-old Lingayat strongman, the opposition of continuing Yediyurappa in CM post is also coming from within the community.
Leaders such as disgruntled BJP MLAs Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and Arvind Bellad, who are said to be among those at the forefront of the efforts to replace the chief minister, belong to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community.
The Lingayats are a dominant community that makes up nearly 17 per cent of Karnataka’s six-crore population. The community can determine the outcome of polls in as many as 90-100 of the state’s 224 assembly constituencies.
The community has backed the BJP and its leader Yediyurappa since the turn of the century after the Congress had lost its influence on the community in the 1990s on account of its shabby treatment of leaders such as former chief minister Veerendra Patil.