Basavaraj Bommai
In a significant turn of events, multiple incumbent ministers of the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government, along with the Assembly Speaker, faced defeat in the elections I File photo

Karnataka: Lingayat BJP MLAs complain about Bommai in letter to Modi

The Panchamasali Lingayat community, a crucial factor in the electoral arithmetic of the BJP in north Karnataka ahead of the Assembly elections, has indirectly threatened its Central leadership that it will vote against the party. In a surprising move, around 20 odd BJP MLAs have written a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office and complained against Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, explaining the present situation the community is facing, sources said. Panchamasali seer Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swamiji, who is leading the Panchamasali movement, along with BJP leader Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, has also signed the letter.

The letter details the failure of the Bommai’s administration in getting 2A reservation to the Panchamasalis. Though the CM had assured them to give them 2A status and restructure the 2C and 2D categories in a cabinet meeting, he could not achieve it because of legal issues. It was a false promise, the letter states.

‘Won’t support the BJP in elections’

According to sources, the MLAs have mentioned that they are not ready to support Bommai in the coming elections. If the situation continues, the letter hinted that the MLAs will have to look for other options in the coming elections. Sources said that the letter explains how important the Panchamasali voters in the north Karnataka region are in about 51 Assembly constituencies. Detailing the social status of the Panchamasalis, the letter states that they belong to the sub-castes of Lingayats comprising agricultural labourers and other socially backward categories.

Also read: Karnataka polls: BJP will win 106 seats, says CM Bommai

In the 224-Assembly constituencies in Karnataka, over 100 constituencies in north Karnataka are dominated by the Lingayats, who are the deciding factor for a candidate’s victory. At present, out of 119 BJP MLAs, 54 belong to the Lingayat community. While Lingayats constitute 17 percent of the population, 60 percent of the people come from the Lingayat sub-sect, Panchamasali.

Will the BJP win over the  Panchamasalis?

Panchamasalis comprise more than 50 per cent in 51 constituencies and are the deciding factor in other 10-plus constituencies. They are also crucial in eight parliamentary constituencies. In the 2013 elections, the Panchamasalis moved to Congress after the then CM B S Yediyurappa launched a new party “Karnataka Janata Party”, and Congress had more MLAs from that region. So, this time it seems that the Panchamasalis are essential for the BJP to gain more seats. Even Veerashaiva Lingayats need the support of Panchamasalis to win the elections in their constituencies.

Also read: Congress’ ₹2,000 poll promise to mislead people: Karnataka CM

But it looks difficult for the BJP to win over the emotion of the community in the current circumstances. Congress is also trying to gain the support of Panchamasalis as its leaders Vijayananda Kashappanavar and Lakshmi Hebbalkar are directly supporting the movement.

The Panchamasali issue is a worrying factor for the BJP and it is seen in the changed plans of CM Bommai. According to the sources, Bommai is thinking of changing his constituency from Shiggaon (Haveri district) as it has more than 60 per cent Panchamasalis. Panchamasali MLAs are hopeful that the Prime Minister or the central leadership will act accordingly to save the party soon. Bommai was earlier MLC from Janata Dal (United) and joined the BJP in 2008. He became an MLA from the Shiggaon constituency in 2008 for two times. Bommai, a Sadara Lingayat in his constituency, is wary that Panchamasalis will go against him.

Read More
Next Story