Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi. File photo

Rahul pays obeisance to social reformer Basaveshwara, draws huge crowds

On the occasion of “Basava Jayanti,” which marks the birth anniversary of the 12th-century poet and social reformer Basaveshwara, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi paid his respects at Basaveshwara’s resting place in Kudala Sangama on Sunday (April 23).

On his arrival in Hubballi from Delhi, the former AICC president travelled to Kudala Sangama by helicopter for the darshan at Sangamanatha temple and of the Aikya Linga.

Kudala Sangama, situated at the confluence of the rivers Krishna and Malaprabha in Bagalakote district, is a pilgrim centre. The Aikya Mantapa or the holy Samadhi of Basaveshwara, popularly known as Basavanna, the founder of the Lingayat sect, along with a Linga, which is believed to be self-born (Swayambhu), is here.

Kudala Sangama is also famed for its Chalukyan-style Sangameshwara temple where it is believed that Basavanna had worshipped lord Shiva.

Accompanied by AICC general secretary K C Venugopal, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, state Congress campaign committee chief M B Patil and other leaders, Gandhi later participated in the Basava Jayanti celebration organised by Utsava Samithi (festival committee) at Basava Mantapa, and took prasada (lunch) at Kudala Sangama Dasoha Bhavan.

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Seers from several Lingayat maths were present on the occasion.

This visit of Gandhi is seen as an attempt by the Congress to bolster the Lingayat outreach, ahead of the May 10 Assembly polls in the State. Lingayats are a dominant community constituting about 17 per cent of the States population, largely seen as ruling BJP’s vote-bank.

Speaking at the event, Gandhi, remembered with gratitude Basavanna and people like him, for laying the foundation for democracy and parliamentary democracy and rights in India.

Basavana played the role of a light amid the darkness that existed in the society during his times, he said, as he praised Basvanna’s qualities of questioning the practices that existed, which he felt were wrong.

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“Basavanna did not leave the path of truth throughout his life and spoke out truth without any fear. It is not easy to speak the truth before society. Despite threats Basavanna did not deviate from the path of truth and questioned bad practices in the society, so he is respected till today,” he added.

Basava Jayanthi is a government holiday in Karnataka and is observed with reverence by the Lingayat community across the State.

Basavanna believed in a society free of the caste system with equal opportunity for all. He founded the Anubhava Mantapa, an academy which included Lingayat mystics, saints and philosophers. Located in Basavakalyan in Bidar district it is considered to be the first religious parliament in the world.

Following his visit to Kudala Sangama, Rahul held a roadshow which drew huge crowds.

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Standing on top of a specially designed vehicle, Gandhi constantly waved at the people gathered in the streets and on nearby buildings, many of whom were seen chanting Rahul, Rahul slogans and shouting loud cheers.

He began the road show after garlanding the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

People holding Congress flags moved along as the vehicle carrying Gandhi and other Congress leaders passed through the streets from Shivaji Circle and Kanakadasa Circle, amid the sound of drum beats.

Karnataka Congress campaign committee chief M B Patil and several other party leaders and workers accompanied Gandhi on the road show.

(With agency inputs)

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