Cong list has more Lingayat candidates

People from the Lingayat community attend a rally in Hubballi. DH File Photo

The Congress has fielded 48 candidates for the May 12 Assembly elections from the Lingayat community.

Lingayats form about 17% of Karnataka's population and is considered a supporter of the BJP.

Chief Minister Siddarmaiah had made a determined bid to woo the influential community by asking the Center to recognise Lingayats and Veerashaivas as a religious minority.

The strong pitch for Lingayat votes was also reflected in the first list of the Congress that had more representatives from the community than in the previous Assembly elections.

In 2013, the Congress had fielded 44 candidates from the Lingayat community, including five from the Reddy Lingayats. For the May 12 elections, 48 Lingayat candidates are in the fray, including six from the Reddy Lingayat community.

The OBC candidates (52) top the Congress's list of 218 nominees, followed by Lingayats, Vokkaligas (39), SC (36) and ST (17).

The Congress has fielded 15 Muslim candidates, against the 19 it had put up in the 2013 elections.

The state Cabinet on March 19 had decided to recommend to the Centre to grant religious minority tag to the dominant Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community, based on the recommendation of the Karnataka State Minority Commission.

The BJP had countered the Congress move accusing Siddaramaiah of dividing Hindus.

Though the BJP and the Congress raised the pitch for Lingayat support, the political rivals appear to have toned down the rhetoric on the issue with powerful seers voicing scepticism over the benefits the community may get after being granted the minority status.

BJP president Amit Shah has visited over 10 Lingayat mutts while campaigning in the state, which is largely seen as an attempt to keep the community support intact.

In a bid to counter Siddaramaiah's move, the BJP dug out documents to show that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance had rejected the Lingayats' demand for a separate religion in 2013.

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