Karnataka results: Lingayats resoundignly reject divisive strategy of Siddaramaiah.

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The fall of Siddaramaiah and the Congress in Karnataka was a result of many misdeeds but one such ill-intentioned move went horribly wrong for the party. The move to grant separate religion status to Lingayat went wrong completely and that is clearly evident in the election results. Congress has won 78 seats, a drop of 43 seats. BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, a jump of 65 seats as compared to 2013 elections. In the Lingayat Belt, Congress won 20 seats and BJP secured victory on 37 seats. BJP successfully convinced the voters, and rightly so, that the Congress is trying to divide Hindus by granting separate religion status to the Lingayats and thus, a much-hyped issue has failed to yield the positive surplus for Congress.

Many top Congress Lingayat leaders suffered heavy defeats in the assembly polls. Three big Lingayat faces, Vinay Kulkarni, Sharan Prakash Patil and Basavaraj Rayareddi lost their seats to the BJP from Dharwad Rural, Sedam and Yelaburga respectively.  Siddaramaiah was contesting from two seats, Badami and Chamundeshwari.  He won Badami with a slight margin of votes but he badly lost Chamundeshwari seat by more than 36,000 votes. Lingayats are a strong electoral force in Chamundeshwari.

The Lingayat issue is haunting the Congress even after the polls. According to sources, many stalwart Lingayat leaders are unhappy with the Congress’ decision to support HD Kumaraswamy for Chief-Ministership who comes from Vokkaliga caste. Heavyweights like Anand Singh, Rajashekar Patil, Nagendra and M Y Patil are not at all comfortable with the idea of Congress-JD(S) coalition government. One of the major causes of their resentment is the manner in which Lingayats had cast their votes. They feel that the issue would have a major impact on the outcome of 2019 Parliamentary elections in the state. Lingayats constitute 17 percent of the Karnataka population. It would also send the message that the Congress and JD(S) are trying to keep one of the tallest Lingayat leader, BS Yeddyurappa, away from Chief Ministership. The Lingayats influence the outcome in at least 90 to 100 seats, in the assembly elections. Numbers indicate that the Congress has performed badly in these seats. Congress tried its level best to pretend that the move would help them heavily but again, as usual, they miscalculated the things. Their leaders maintained a stoic silence on the loss of face. Now, it is proved that what Congress thought to be a masterstroke turned out to be political suicide. After the Congress’ poor performance in the state, Lingayats expressed their happiness on twitter.

Some Media reports also claim that Lingayat MLAs unhappy with Chief Ministership of HD Kumaraswamy, are in touch with BJP.

It is now evident that, mostly, Lingayat votes consolidated in BS Yeddyurappa’s favor. Lingayats are traditionally BJP supporters. Congress’ divide and rule strategy has not worked in Karnataka. The seers of the community campaigned in the villages, asking their followers to not to vote for the Congress.  In 2013, Congress won because BJP was divided. Yeddyurappa left BJP and fought the elections with his own party, Karnataka Janata Paksha. This divided the votes between BJP and KJP. However, this time, Yeddyurappa coming back to the BJP resulted in consolidation of Lingayat votes in the BJP’s favor and thus BJP emerged as single largest party in the state. According to some media reports, tomorrow BS Yeddyurappa is going to take oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Lingayats could not have answered in a better way to the divisive tactics of the Congress and Yeddyurappa’s ascension to the post of Karnataka CM is the testament to Congress’ failure.

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Shubham Singh

21, (BA) Political Science Hons, PG Diploma in RTV, Learner.

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