M B Patil in fault line of Lingayat faith tag

M B Patil in fault line of Lingayat faith tag

It is virtually a fight between those in favour and against a separate minority religion tag for Lingayats in Babaleshwar constituency.

Sitting MLA and Water Resources Minister M B Patil, the most prominent leader who spearheaded the cause to get minority tag to Lingayat faith, is pitted against Vijugouda Patil of the BJP in a straight fight.

BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa is keen that M B Patil is defeated at any cost and has launched a campaign, blaming him for trying to split the Lingayat community.

Vijugouda Patil, who contested the 2008 and 2013 Assembly polls on a JD(S) ticket against M B Patil, joined the BJP recently.

Having lost twice against Patil with a narrow margin, Vijugouda is banking on the sympathy factor.

He has launched a door-to-door campaign to strike a rapport with the voters. He is also pointing out that he belongs to the Panchamshali Lingayat sect of the community as against Patil who belongs to the Kudu Vokkaliga Lingayat community (who form the majority in the constituency).

However, Patil is banking on the development narrative to counter Vijugouda. Patil has brought several irrigation projects, like the recently inaugurated Bableshwar aqueduct project completed in a record 155 days and the Rs 3,500-crore Tabachi Bableshwar flood irrigation project, benefiting thousands of farmers in this agrarian constituency.

Patil is of the opinion that Yedduyrappa has a grudge against him that he (Patil) may emerge as a prominent Lingayat leader of North Karnataka. He is confident that the strategy of the BJP to divide will not work.

Interestingly, the JD(S) has not fielded any candidate, allotting the seat to BSP as part of the pre-poll alliance. The BSP candidate, said to be a close follower of Patil, withdrew his candidature in favour of his leader.

On its part, the BJP camp is of the opinion that Patil won in 2013, because of the split in Lingayat votes between the party and the erstwhile KJP floated by Yeddyurappa.

The BJP is also projecting Patil as being inaccessible to voters and having an arrogant attitude.