Congress leader Siddaramaiah’s remarks made in reference to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai that “Lingayat Chief Minister of the BJP has ruined the State through corruption” has taken a controversial twist with the ruling BJP describing this as an insult to the dominant Lingayat community.
The BJP appeared to be using the episode to launch a counterattack at the Congress, which had accused it of ignoring leaders of the Lingayat community in the wake of two of its Lingayat leaders joining the Congress after being dined ticket.
Chief Minister himself launched the attack on Mr. Siddaramaiah on the day of Basava Jayanthi by comparing his remarks to that of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who had wondered why all the criminals have the surname Modi. The Chief Minister also maintained that Mr. Siddaramaiah’s remarks had hurt the soul of Lingayats.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi too took serious exception to Mr. Siddaramaiah’s remarks and said it had shown how the Congress leaders view the Lingayat community.
BJP leader and MLA Arvind Bellad too joined the attack on Mr. Siddaramaiah and sought a response in this regard from former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who recently quit the BJP and joined the Congress, alleging that the BJP had insulted the Lingayat leaders. Panchamashali seer Jayamruthyunjaya Swamiji too expressed pain over such remarks of Mr. Siddaramaiah and said it had hurt the community.
Meanwhile, a group of lawyers form Lingayat community petitioned the Election Commission of India, seeking action against Mr. Siddaramaiah, accusing him of insulting the community itself.
On his part, Mr. Siddaramaiah clarified that his statement was being twisted by the BJP for political gains. Without taking the name of BJP National Organising General Secretary B.L. Santhosh, he alleged that the RSS leaders were hatching a conspiracy to politically finish off senior Lingayat leaders in the BJP by denying tickets to a host of them. They were also responsible for veteran BJP leader and Lingayat strongman B.S. Yediyurappa going to jail on corruption charges, he alleged and remarked that the BJP’s Lingayat leaders were unnecessarily targetting the Congress instead of understanding the truth.