A Siddaganga Mutt chief has appealed to voters to come out in large numbers and vote in the Karnataka Assembly elections on May 10, as it is the “duty of the people to vote”.
As the state Assembly polls are around the corner, a prominent religious head Siddalinga Mahaswami has urged voters to exercise their democratic right to elect their government.
The Siddaganga Mutt supremo Siddalinga Mahaswami told PTI in an interview in Tumakuru, “Election is the festival of democracy and every citizen has a right to vote in accordance with the Constitution. It is the duty of the people to vote, whomever they wish as it is their choice to elect leaders (to govern them).”
The Assembly elections in Karnataka will be held on May 10 and the counting of votes will take place on May 13.
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Though mutts of Karnataka claim to stay away from politics, it is well known that these religious centres are followed by particular castes and they are capable of swinging votes of entire communities. After all, mutts also run hospitals and educational institutions, while performing other social services, according to political experts.
Surrounded by hillocks in this district, Sree Siddaganga is a prominent Lingayat mutt which is running a mega educational institution for students from weaker sections of society, from across Karnataka who are offered food and education free of cost.
Ramagiri, or Ramalinga, hills and Siddaganga hills have a number of caves with Shivalinga in them, and the caves have also become the places of research in Shaiva history. The famous Shivaganga hills are also located near Sree Siddaganga Mutt.
“The people will elect the government of their choice. After elections, the party with majority will form the government. My only message to the people is to come out and vote in large numbers to (elect their representatives),” the Siddaganga Mutt chief said.
Siddalinga Mahaswami took over the reins of the prominent mutt after the demise of Sri Shivakumara Swamy in 2019. The mutts of different communities across Karnataka have a significant socio-political influence on the public, as politicians from across the country, including Delhi, make a beeline to the religious centres for blessings.
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“Mutts are doing services and they (politicians) come and seek blessings. Not only during the time of elections, they come whenever they like. We only insist people to vote and fulfill their responsibility,” Mahaswami said.
He said electing the right government is the choice given by the Constitution to the public and they should exercise this right.
“In Karnataka, people are fortunate that they have mutts throughout the state and you can see mutts are doing social services especially in the fields of education and health. That is why in Karnataka literacy rate is high. Mutts are providing food and have also started school hostel facilities,” he said.
Mubarak, who has worked at the Siddaganga Mutt for 18 years and is functioning as a caretaker, said the mutt is for all people, irrespective of their religion.
“Around 10,000 poor students from different religions are studying in the mutt’s institute and thousands get food every day. Guruji equally looks after all the religions,” he said, adding “if a politician comes here, Guruji gives his blessing to him/her.”
Mubarak said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, all central ministers, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have all come to the mutt and received blessings to serve the nation.
“Guruji does not favour any particular party. He only gives his blessings to all the politicians equally. His intention is that whosoever comes to power, they should serve the society honestly,” Mubarak said, adding leaders of both BJP and Congress are scheduled to visit the mutt before joining their election campaigns.