Lingayat issue: A play in optics between Yediyurappa and BJP high command

While the BJP central leadership has put a spanner in the works for Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa by putting a stop to his move to recommend the inclusion of all sub-sects of Veerashaiva-Lingayats in the Central OBC reservation list, the Lingayat strongman appears to have made his point in terms of optics.

The message Mr. Yediyurappa has conveyed to the community seems to be that while he was eager to ensure additional reservation for them, he was helpless because of the high command’s intervention. It is believed that a “stern message” from Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a phone call on Friday morning stopped Mr. Yediyurappa from making the recommendation to the Centre without consultation. This optics of it all, a section of party leaders believe, might endear him to the vote bank.

Playing out in the backdrop of speculation about an imminent leadership change, the one-upmanship has gained political significance. “Given his history of rebellion against the party in 2012 and the support of the Lingayat community he enjoys, he is keen to send out a message to the high command,” a BJP leader said.

The matter of inclusion in the Central OBC list — a demand that dates back to 1994 — seems to have now gathered fresh momentum. Sri Basava Jaya Mrutyunjaya Swami, head of Lingayat Panchamasali Peetha at Kudalasangama, has threatened to take out a padayatra from Kudalasangama to Bengaluru from December 23 if “no positive development” takes place by then.

Most of the Chief Minister’s Cabinet colleagues and party leaders were taken by surprise at the reservation proposal on the agenda for the Cabinet meeting and probably alerted the high command about it, sources said. It also came soon after the setting up of a Veerashaiva-Lingayat Development Corporation with a generous grant of ₹500 crore.

Central leaders feared that the reservation proposal might open a Pandora’s box, with similar demands coming from other communities across the country. It would have been a demand difficult to accede and could also antagonise communities currently enjoying the 27% OBC reservation by shrinking their share, observed a party source.

Mr. Yediyurappa was quick to place the ball in the high command’s court by saying on Friday that a decision on Veerashaiva-Lingayat reservation would be taken “only after discussions with Delhi”. He also said that Mr. Shah had called him earlier in the day, though he did not explicitly link it to the reservation issue.


“Given the threat of antagonising the Lingayat community in the event of a leadership change, a faction within the party has been trying to create a counter-narrative to Mr. Yediyurappa from within the community,” a leader said. Anointing Laxman Savadi as Deputy Chief Minister and Basanagouda Patil Yatnal openly criticising the Chief Minister are part of this, he claimed.

On the other hand, Mr. Yediyurappa has been making his own moves by setting up the development corporation and showing keenness on the reservation issue, said leaders in the know.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 7:23:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/lingayat-issue-a-play-in-optics-between-yediyurappa-and-bjp-high-command/article33202485.ece

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