BANGALORE: Paying tribute to Basaveshwara, the revered Lingayat philosopher of the 12th century, at Albert Embankment on the bank of the Thames River, PM Modi did what best he could to woo the powerful and well connected Lingayat community in Karnataka, the state which goes to polls on May 12th.
Just before the assembly election, incumbent CM Siddaramaiah proposed a separate religion status for the community in a bid to dent BJP’s vote share, since BJP is popular among high caste Hindus like Lingayats and Veerashaivas.
The JD(S) has, meanwhile, released a second list of candidates. With 52 names on it, the total number of candidates from the party is now 182 for the 224 seat state assembly. Some of the names are those of netas who have switched their loyalties to JD(S) recently, leaving their parties (probably) disgruntled over not being given a ticket. The BJP is also yet to announce names for 72 seats. Several leaders from all parties are filing their papers on Friday, since it is an auspicious day.
CM Siddaramaiah of Congress launched a vicious attack on BJP while addressing a rally in Mysore. He said, ‘for five years we gave a stable government. They, on the other hand, had three CMs. We don't have resort politics, while G Janardhana Reddy has only done resort politics when Yeddyurappa was CM. We have given a stable, clean and scandal-less government. BSY is corrupt, he was jailed. BJP is trying their best to come to power but the people are smart’. He also visited the Chamundeshwari temple, seeking blessings of the reigning deity for victory.
It is still not clear if he will file his nomination papers only from Chamundeshwari or from Badami also. When asked about it, he said, ‘I will decide tomorrow morning after discussing with Rahul Gandhi. Badami and Bijapur people had asked me to contest from Badami. So, I told them will convey their demands to high command. Whatever high command decides, I will do that.’
The Congress could benefit from the fact that the electorate has little or no faith in other political parties, along with Siddaramaiah’s pro-poor schemes and recent moves like demand for a separate state flag and separate religion status for Lingayats. The Congress has also decided to re-nominate Shanthinagara sitting MLA N A Haris, whose ticket was kept on hold due to the recent allegations of assault on his son.
While the D-day is just 3 weeks away, the election campaigning is at its peak, with Siddaramaiah pitted against B S Yedyurappa and Rahul Gandhi against Amit Shah. There are more than 4.9 crore voters in Karnataka, and voting will be conducted in a single phase on 12th May. Apart from the Congress, BJP and JD(S), Janata Dal (United), Karnataka Kranti Ranga, Kannad Chalavali Vatal Paksha, Karnataka Vikas Party, Karnataka Congress Party, Coorg National Council, Swaraj India etc are also contesting the election from regional pockets in the state.