Hubballi: Former minister Vinay Kulkarni of the Congress party is leaving no stone unturned to appease the Veerashaiva seers, who had vehemently opposed his movement for independent religion status for the Lingayats, as part of his strategy to win these Lok Sabha polls from Dharwad.
In a damage control exercise, the Lingayat leader is working hard to strike a rapport with the seers by sidestepping the issue of a minority tag for the community to counter sitting Dharwad BJP MP, Pralhad Joshi, who is riding high on the Veerashaiva votebank and the influence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the region.
So determind is he to woo the Veerashaivas that he also met Rambhapuri seer, Veerasomeshwara Shivacharya Swamiji to take his blessings during his campaign although he had led the agitation against the Lingayat movement for independent religion.
Mr Kulkarni has little choice in the matter as he received the Congress ticket just a day before the last date for filing of nominations, and has not been able to campaign as much as Mr Joshi. With little time at his disposal he has felt compelled to win over the entire Lingayat community to up his chances of winning from Dharwad.
And so, despite his Cabinet colleague, M B Patil’s assertion that he would never disown the Lingayat movement, he has now admitted that it had harmed the Congress’ prospects during the last Assembly elections and declared that it has nothing to do with the present Lok Sabha poll. While Mr Kulkarni’s change of stance has caused confusion among seers backing an independent religion status for the Lingayats, members and office-bearers of the Lingayat Mahasabha are still working hard to ensure his victory, says its Dharwad district unit general secretary, Lokesh Koravi.
Leaders of the Mahasabha are, however, also simultaneously touring rural areas of Dharwad district to create awareness about the demand for a minority tag for Lingayats, which may not help his chances.
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