Lingayat mutts and leaders rally behind BSY amid row
Heads of several mutts in Bengaluru met Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa amidst speculations of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) replacing him, despite him saying that the decision would depend on the party high command.
“I will have to abide by the decision of the party high command,” the CM is reported to have told the delegation of priests. The political and religious leaders of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which comprises 16 per cent of the state’s population and the biggest vote base for BJP, promised their support to Yediyurappa following the meeting.
The Lingayat community is back in focus with speculations of Yediyurappa’s departure. Yediyurappa has been the face of the Lingayat community in the party and has enjoyed big electoral support from its members.
One of the pontiffs who attended the meeting said that Yediyurappa told them that he would abide by the BJP high command’s decision.
Several of the mutt leaders who attended the meeting have warned the BJP against any move to dislodge the 78-year-old. Veera Someshwara Shivacharya Swami said any move to replace Yediyurappa will have big consequences for the BJP. “Friction is common in politics, let anyone say anything, 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,” he said.
Muruga mutt seer Sri Shivamurthy Sharanaru held a press conference in support of the senior BJP leader, in Chitradurga district on Tuesday in support of Yediyurappa. “Yediyurappa may belong to the Lingayat caste and religion. But he is a leader for all. He is a mass leader who treats everyone equally. He has worked for the development of people of all castes and religions equally. That is why he must continue as the CM of the state,” the seer said. “Yediyurappa is a grassroots level leader. He has built the party from the scratch. He should not be disturbed. We are here to support him and express solidarity with him. The party will suffer if he is removed,” the Murugha mutt seer added.
Yediyurappa is said to have told the delegation that he will have to abide by the decision of the BJP high command, giving some credence to speculation that a change of leadership is on the cards. “Yediyurappa only said that he is not in a position to speak anything on the issue and will have to abide by the decision of the high command. He did not say anything else,” Balehosur mutt’s Dingaleshwar Swamy, who led the delegation of pontiffs, said.
“When we questioned Yediyurappa what happened, he said he will not comment on that, and the high command’s decision is final. He did not say anything else. The unanimous opinion of the pontiffs is: don’t replace Yediyurappa. If it is done, you (BJP) will face bad consequences in the days to come,” he added.
The pontiff told reporters that if in any situation Yediyurappa is replaced, the BJP will probably get decimated in Karnataka. “This is not only our opinion but of a majority of people of the state,” he added.
On Monday, senior Lingayat leader in the Congress party and the former minister MP Patil had said the Lingayat community would be upset if the BJP high command removed Yediyurappa from the post. “Surely, the Lingayats will be displeased with the BJP’s central leaders if they remove the Lingayat leader BS Yediyurappa from the post of the chief minister,” Patil tweeted.
Another Congress leader and president of All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha (the largest group within the Lingayat community) Shamanuru Shivashankarappa, who met the chief minister on Monday, said the latter should continue with the post.
Shivashankarappa, who met Yediyurappa at his residence for over an hour, had told media that the Veerashaiva community was standing firmly with Yediyurappa and any efforts to dislodge him would not go down well with the community. ”If they dislodge Yediyurappa, the BJP will suffer the same fate that happened when Nijalingappa and Veerendra Patil were removed.
The BJP must think about this history before venturing into any adventures. It is BB Shivappa and BS Yediyurappa who toiled hard and built this party. If they remove him, they will be ruined,” he had said.
As the speculations continue, Yediyurappa has called the legislative party meeting on July 26. This decision comes after he returned to the state after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda in New Delhi last week.
On his return, he told the media that the central leadership asked him to continue. “The central leaders have asked me to continue as chief minister and strengthen the party. We must follow their instructions from time to time. There is no question of leadership change,” Yediyurappa told reporters on his return from Delhi.
However, since returning to Karnataka, Yediyurappa has not issued any public statements denying the rumours of his replacement.
(With inputs from PTI)