The Lingayat Factor: No comfort for Sidda in home turf Varuna

 Siddaramaiah faces challenges in Varuna as Lingayats may support BJP due to a 2% quota increase. Intra-party rivalry, his son’s loss of the Varuna seat, and BJP backing Lingayat leader Somanna add to his difficulties. At 75 years old, it remains to be seen if he can overcome these obstacles to stay relevant.

| Updated: 19 April, 2023 10:49 am IST

Siddaramaiah, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, faces a tough challenge in his home constituency of Varuna as he contests the upcoming state elections. He is confronted with several obstacles, including intra-party rivalry, his son’s loss of the Varuna seat, and a potential lack of support from the influential Lingayat community due to the BJP’s actions.

To accommodate Siddaramaiah’s candidature from Varuna, his son Yatindra, who was the sitting MLA from the constituency, had to give up his seat. However, this move may not be enough to secure Siddaramaiah’s victory, as the Lingayats, who make up a significant proportion of the constituency’s voters, may not support him. The BJP’s decision to increase the Lingayat community’s quota share by two percent and its backing of Lingayat leader V Somanna, who is considered to be the tallest leader from the community, only second to Yediyurappa, may work in the BJP’s favor.

During a visit to Varuna, The New Indian found that there was no major wave of support for Siddaramaiah, and voters were split between the BJP and the Congress. The Lingayats, who make up over 60,000 of the constituency’s two lakh voters, are expected to continue voting for the BJP.

Siddaramaiah’s attempts to woo the Lingayat community in the past have also failed to yield any electoral dividends. In 2018, his government’s declaration of Lingayats as a separate religion from Hinduism in a bid to split the BJP’s Lingayat vote-bank did not translate into electoral success, as the BJP went on to win a majority.

The 75-year-old leader has already announced that this will be his last election, and he had requested a second safe seat in Kolar due to his inkling of the multi-pronged attack he would face in Varuna. The intra-party rivalry between Siddaramaiah and fellow CM probable DK Shivkumar is believed to be responsible for his precarious situation. Shivkumar, according to insiders, wanted to eliminate intra-party competition as Congress is anticipating to perform well in the upcoming elections.

This rivalry between two strong leaders of the party is likely to benefit the BJP in the end. But it remains to be seen if Siddaramaiah can turn around his adverse political circumstances and retain space for himself and his legacy in the Karnataka politics.


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