Kalaburagi: With a view to send out a message that the Veerashaiva-Lingayats are backing the Congress candidate in the Kalaburagi Lok Sabha seat, Mallikarjun Kharge, a convention of the community was held here on Friday.
Top Congress leaders belonging to the community such as Akhila Bharat Veerashaiva Lingayat Mahasabha president Shamanur Shivashankarappa, KPCC Working President Eswhar Khandre, Ministers M.B. Patil and Rajashekhar Patil, legislators M.Y. Patil, Sharanabasappa Darshanapur, former legislators B R Patil, Dr Sharanprakash Patil, Allam Prabhu Patil and senior leader Allam Veerabhadrappa, who spoke on the occasion, sought votes from the community for Mr Kharge.
While hailing the contributions of Mr Kharge for the region, these leaders appealed to the community to get Mr Kharge elected again as he had reached great heights at the Centre.
Mr B.R. Patil in his introductory speech, said the convention was held to get rid of the misconception that all Veershaiva-Lingayats were with the BJP. "The community which believes in building an egalitarian society, cannot associate with a communal party like BJP. The Congress has produced many Veerashaiva-Lingayat leaders. Mr Kharge, who has worked for bringing development in the region, should be supported", Mr Patil asserted.
Hailing Mr Kharge as a champion of development, Mr M.B. Patil said society should show its gratitude by getting him re-elected. Dr Sharanprakash Patil alleged that an attempt was being made by the BJP to misguide the Veerashaiva-Lingayats. "The community should not fall prey to this," he said. Mr Khandre said the community had always stood for secularism and practiced egalitarian values. "The values professed by Basavanna and others are radically different from those advocated by the RSS", he said.
Mr Kharge said during his 48 year long political career, he had not done anything which would make his supporters hang their heads in shame. " Vote for those who have built the country and not for those whose design is to divide society", he remarked. Meanwhile some Veerashaiva Lingayat Swamijis while terming as "opportunistic" the organising of a convention of the Veerashaiva/Lingayats by the Congress, cautioned the community to be wary of such leaders who try to split the communitys during elections. Addressing the media here, President of the Akhil Bharat Veerashaiva Shivacharya Sangha Sri Revanasiddha Shivacharya of Saradagi Mutt said that leaders like Home Minister M.B. Patil, former Minister Dr Sharanprakash Patil, former legislator B.R. Patil and others who were in the forefront of the Lingayat movement seeking separate religion status for Lingayats, had now changed their stance saying that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are the same. "A meeting of religious heads, community leaders and experts will be held on April 16 to decide on the stand to be taken in the ongoing poll," he added.
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