Bengaluru:BJP president Amit Shah on Monday began his two-day tour of poll-bound Karnataka by visiting and seeking blessings of Sri Shivakumara Swami of Siddhaganga Mutt in Tumakuru, a revered seer of the Lingayat community.
Shah’s meeting with the seer is being seen as an attempt to reach out to the Lingayats/Veeshaivas, who are numerically and politically powerful in the state and form a major voter base for the BJP.
The visit assumes significance as it comes in the backdrop of the Siddaramaiah government’s move to recommend to the Centre to accord a religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats in an attempt to wean away a section of them from the BJP.
“Today I had the good fortune to seek blessings from the ‘Walking God’ Sri Sri Sri Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddhaganga Mutt, Tumakuru. His tireless work even at his advanced age is inspiring. His life is a living lesson and guiding light for all of us," Shah said in a tweet.
Shah also prayed for his long life and lauded his efforts to bring all sections of society together through education. “Standing in front of Sri Sri Sri Shivakumara ji feels like standing in front of God. He has succeeded in bringing all sections of society together through education. I pray for his long life," he tweeted.
Besides visiting mutts associated with Lingayat and Dalit communities, Shah will address farmers’ and traders’ meetings and party events during his tour, that will also witness road shows.
The Congress government’s decision on the religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, political observers have said, is aimed at denting the vote bank to the BJP, which has declared Lingayat strongman B.S. Yeddyurappa its chief ministerial candidate.
On Tuesday, Shah will visit Madara Chennaiah mutt, which has been traditionally associated with Dalits. He will also visit the Bekkinkal, Sirgere and Muruga mutts, among others, during his visit to the state’s central region.
The BJP is making an all-out effort to unseat the Congress from the only big state where the grand old party is in power. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also been frequenting the state and visited holy places linked to different religions and castes in the four rounds of tour undertaken by him so far.