Bengaluru: With the opposition Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) actively considering the possibility of reviving their now defunct coalition after the December 5 bypolls if the ruling BJP fares badly, pontiffs of various Lingayat denominations have reportedly ‘entered the fray’ to safeguard Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who is considered the mascot of the community in the state.
The possibility of a subtle understanding between the Congress and JD(S) to ensure the defeat of the BJP in several constituencies in the bypolls cannot be ruled out and therefore the pontiffs have taken upon themselves the task of convincing Lingayat candidates contesting on the tickets of these parties to step aside and transfer the votes to the BJP candidate in their respective constituencies.
If the BJP wins more than eight seats of the 15 in the bypolls, it will get a majority in the lower House and the Congress and JD (S) may not be able to disturb the Yediyurappa government for now.
However, if the ruling party is unable to put up a good show, there is a real possibility of the two parties coming together to dislodge the BJP government headed by Yediyurappa like the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena did in neighbouring Maharashtra.
The statements made by Congress and JD (S) leaders in the last one week, seem to have forced the pontiffs to come together to fight for Mr Yediyurappa. “The same forces that brought down the Veerendra Patil government in the 1980s and troubled J.H. Patel a lot when he was CM in the 1990s (both CMs were Lingayats), are now making efforts to dislodge Mr Yediyurappa. This seems like a conspiracy against a Lingayat Chief Minister which has made the pontiffs join hands and hold a series of meetings with political party and community leaders to ensure that Lingayat votes go only to the Bharatiya Janata Party candidates,” a leader privy to these developments said.