bs yediyurappa: Lingayat consolidation for OBC tag may be a trump card for BS Yediyurappa

BENGALURU: Numerous mutts of Karnataka’s dominant Lingayat-Veerashaiva community have come together to seek inclusion of 100-plus subsects in the other backward classes (OBC) list in a development that likely puts chief minister BS Yediyurappa in a pole position politically.

The latest show of unity by the community is seen as a deft move to counter the massive campaign of Panchamasalis — the dominant subsect of Lingayats — demanding quotas under the 2A category.

The Panchamasali mutts, meanwhile, are organising a rally in Bengaluru on February 21, and the chief minister is aware the event is aimed at seeking dominance for the party MLAs in the Cabinet.

Lingayat, the community to which the chief minister belongs, is clearly divided between the largest subcaste of Panchamasalis and the rest. The Panchamasalis have been sore that their representation in the Cabinet is not proportionate to their population while the Banajiga Lingayat subsect has seven ministers including Yediyurappa.

Panchamasalis are unwilling to cede a free rein to Yediyurappa and see their cause distinct from that of the chief minister or the other subsects that see him as their tallest leader. They have been quite open in their attacks on the chief minister forcing his camp to work out counter strategies.

The swift consolidation of hundreds of heads of Veerashaiva mutts of all sizes and the flash meeting by them demanding OBC status is seen as a prop against the Panchamasali movement. The chief minister’s son and BJP state vice-president BY Vijayendra has denied he was behind the latest meeting of mutt heads from the community.

Kurubas, who come under the 2A category, have also been agitating demanding the ST tag, while the ST community of Nayaks wants their quota share raised. The recent rally by Kurubas in Bengaluru, in which ministers participated, raised many eyebrows. BJP leader Ayanur Manjunath wondered about the propriety of senior minister KS Eshwarappa and others participating in a community rally directed against the government and submitting a memorandum, instead of receiving one.

Eshwarappa actively spearheading a rally, aimed at cornering the government, should have invited rebuke from the party, but the BJP’s silence led to speculations that sections of party leaders may have played him up to weaken the chief minister.

But the recent counter agitation by Veerashaiva-Lingayats seeking their pound of flesh in the OBC quota has a clear message for the BJP leadership that Yediyurappa still enjoys the community’s confidence and is too formidable politically to be written off, an analyst, not willing to be named, said.

A long-time associate of Yediyurappa said it is too early to say what turn the current spate of agitations will take, and whether he will be able to get reprieve by referring all these issues to a committee/commission as governments are known to do usually.