It appears that religious heads who wield influence are in demand
Politicians and religious leaders seldom antagonise one another as the former see the latter’s help as a must during elections and the latter too need the former’s help in running their missions.
Political parties and candidates who swear by secularism also do not lag behind in seeking divine intervention during elections. Maths and religious institutions that received support from the erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government continue to need the support of the party in power to pursue their missions — rendering education and other related activities.
However, the seers are cautious enough not to endorse openly anyone’s candidature.
No wonder, politicians, particularly those in the fray, make a beeline to religious leaders having a large following during electioneering seeking their blessings that they think may convert into votes.
Details of such meetings, including pictures/visuals of candidates with the religious leaders, are published/aired in the media prominently to, it would seem, send out a message to the world.
But there are a few exceptions also: Sri Shivamurthy Shivacharya Swamiji of Sirigere Bruhanmath, Chitradurga. While the swamiji gives darshan and offers his blessings, he has reportedly embargoed publication/airing of such pictures/visuals with a view to avoiding influencing his devotees.
The most sought-after religious heads are from the dominant communities —Lingayats and Vokkaligas. They include Sri Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga Math, Tumkur; Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji of Suttur Veerasimhasana Math, Mysore, and Sri Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji of Adichunchanagiri Math.
Udupi Pejawar Math head Sri Vishvesha Tirtha Swamiji and Ramachandrapura Math head Sri Raghaveshwara Bharathi Swamiji are also in great demand as they wield influence over a cross-section of society.
Candidates cutting across party lines and religions have made it a point to visit these seers during electioneering this time too.
Prominent among those seeking divine intervention are H.D. Deve Gowda and H.D. Kumaraswamy from the Janata Dal (Secular); Nandan Nilekani, Rizwan Arshad, C. Narayana Swamy and H. Vishwanath from the Congress and D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Ananth Kumar and B.S. Yeddyurappa from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The candidates have not restricted their visits to Hindu religious leaders only. They also visit heads of churches and Masjids for what they call blessings.
However, a close aide of Sri Vishvesha Tirtha Swamiji told The Hindu that the swamiji does not intend to send out any message to his followers through such meetings with politicians. Perhaps, the candidates would get a “morale booster”, as it is traditional in India to seek blessings and divine intervention before venturing into any major work, he said.