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People belongs to Veershaiva community protesting against the Lingayat religion issue. Photo: PTI
People belongs to Veershaiva community protesting against the Lingayat religion issue. Photo: PTI

Karnataka elections: No politics in Lingayat issue, says Congress

Karnataka Congress president G. Parameshwara says if Lingayats perceive Congress as the political party that fought for their cause, then the party expects a marginal gain

Bengaluru: Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G. Parameshwara on Tuesday maintained that there was no politics in Siddaramaiah government’s move for a separate religious minority status for Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, saying the party did not expect “too much" of electoral gain from it.

“It is wrong to say that Siddaramaiah government has proposed the separate religion and minority tag for Lingayats to gain electoral benefits," Parameshwara said. He said the proposal was sent to the central government in 2013 also, but was rejected.

“This time too we have sent the proposal to meet the pending demand of the community. That is all. There is no politics in it," Parameshwara told reporters in Bengaluru. “We are not expecting too much of an electoral gain out of Lingayat issue," he said. “If Lingayats perceive Congress as the first political party to have fought for their cause of getting them a separate religion and minority tag, we (Congress) expect a marginal gain from it," the KPCC chief said.

Asked to comment on political ramifications of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah’s visit to Lingayat seer Sri Shivakumar Swami of Siddaganga Mutt, he said the pontiff does not have any political affiliations and wouldn’t ask his followers to vote for any party.

“Amit Shah has visited and sought blessings like any other Congress leaders had done and will do in future," he said. Replying to a query, Parameshwara said, “Myself, Siddaramaiah and the party also are aware of anti-incumbency factor, but the Congress is going to definitely form the next government by winning May 12 elections," he said.

The anti-incumbency factor, however, is not very substantial, Parameshwara said. “There may be some unhappiness over some individuals or legislators for not working to the people’s expectations, but on the whole, there is nothing substantial unhappiness expressed against Siddaramaiah government," he said.

To a query, he said the party is not expecting a hung assembly. He also said the JDS-BSP combine would not affect the congress’ electoral prospects. Asked if all sitting MLAs would be given tickets, he said the party high command will take the winnability factor of candidates, instead of considering their relationship with party leaders or ministers.

Replying to a query, Parameshwara said chief minister Siddaramaiah is going to contest from Chamundeshwari constituency and reports about his contesting from either Vijayapura or Bagalkote were false.

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