Bengaluru: This Lok Sabha poll is seeing a battle for the Lingayat vote in North Karnataka with both the Congress and BJP fielding candidates from the community, which is dominant in the region.
But whether the Congress will revive its base in the region by using the Lingayat card after it suffered a drubbing in the last Assembly election here is hard to say. Its leaders have admitted that its efforts to gain political mileage by backing an independent religion status for Lingayats had backfired in the May 2018 poll. And now the community's leaders believe the demand for a minority tag has lost its significance in the parliamentary elections as candidates belonging to different Lingayat sub-castes are being pitted against each other by the Congress and BJP in Belagavi, Chikkodi, Bagalkot, Haveri, Bidar and in central Davangere.
It could be a tough battle for the Congress as most of these constituencies have been represented by BJP MPs for the last two or three terms. "Most of the Lingayats in North Karnataka identify with the BJP. And the Congress lacks strong Lingayat leaders to woo the community. Shamanur Shivashankarappa, Eshwar Khandre, and Tippanna are not promising leaders," said community leader, Vikas Soppin.
"Most of the Lingayats in Haveri and adjacent districts are with the BJP as they are against any attempt to divide the community. Therefore, Congress attempt to grab Lingayat votes will not help," contended Karnataka Veerashaiva Lingayat Panchamasali youth wing president, Mallikarjun Angadi.
The Congress has moreover, failed to capitalise on the failure of the BJP to give any representation to the community in the Union Cabinet despite its many Lingayat MPs, observe others . Even if the party manages to get some votes of the Lingayats by fielding candidates from the community against the BJP, its effort to woo the Kurubas, Muslims and other backward communities could play a decisive role in the elections....