Siddaramaiah won't take a chopper ride with Modi

  • Sudipto Mondol, Hindustan Times, Bangalore
  • Updated: Sep 23, 2014 17:03 IST

The shadow boxing between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first official visit to Karnataka has taken another interesting turn.

After announcing that he will fly to the venue of a public meeting with Modi on Wednesday, chief minister Siddaramaiah changed plans at the last moment and decided to go by road instead.

According to sources, the reason behind the sudden change is the PM's stopover at the Siddaganga Math in Tumkur before he attends the public meeting.

One of the most important centres of faith for the Lingayat community, the Siddaganga Math also wields massive political influence over the community.

Over the last few years, Lingayat strongman BS Yeddyurappa has enjoyed the tacit support of the math and a large number of his supporters are expected to be there when Modi comes calling.

"We cannot be sure that they (BJP supporters) will behave properly when our CM goes there. We think it's best he avoids the event," a source close to Siddaramaiah told HT.

An hour later, the chief minister's office (CMO) officially confirmed that the chopper ride was off.

"They will travel together on the return journey from the public function," said a CMO official.

Whether Siddaramaiah should share dais with the PM at the public event, which is expected to draw a crowd of 25,000, has been a matter of much debate within the Congress since Modi's visit was announced.

Party leaders were worried there may be a repeat of the unsavoury scenes that emerged during official functions in Jharkhand and Haryana where the CMs were booed by Modi's supporters.

Siddaramaiah's attendance was in doubt until it was decided at an executive committee meeting of the party last week that he should attend the function as a "matter of courtesy".

At the meet, Congress leaders decided to pack the venue with party workers and match the Modi brigade slogan for slogan if the situation so demands.

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