Lingayat mutts, leaders rally behind Yediyurappa amid speculations of his removal
Heads of various mutts in Bengaluru met Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Tuesday amid speculations of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) replacing him as the CM, HT has learnt.
The political and religious leaders of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which comprises 16 per cent of the state’s population and the largest vote base for the BJP, promised their support to Yediyurappa following the meeting.
The Lingayat community is back in the focus with speculations of replacing Yediyurappa. The chief minister has been the face of the Lingayat community in the party and has enjoyed large electoral support from its members.
Several of the mutt leaders who attended the meeting have warned the BJP against any move to dislodge the 78-year-old leader. Veera Someshwara Shivacharya Swami said any move to replace Yediyurappa will have huge consequences for the BJP.
“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,” he said.
Muruga mutt seer Sri Shivamurthy Sharanaru held a press conference 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 it is important that he continues 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 Muruga mutt seer added.
On Monday, senior Lingayat leader in the Congress party and the former minister MP Patil 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, told media that the Veerashaiva community was with Yediyurappa and any efforts to dislodge him would not go down well with the community.
“If they dislodge Yediyurappa, the BJP will suffer what 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, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda in New Delhi last week.
On his return, he had told the media that the central leadership has asked him to continue. “The central leaders have asked me to continue as the chief minister and strengthen the party. It is our duty to 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 statements denying the rumours of his replacement.