Senior Cong. leaders from community to meet in Bengaluru
Political compulsions seem to be bringing factions of Veerashaiva and Lingayats together after nearly a year of slugfests between them. After being ignored for Cabinet berth by the JD(S)-Congress coalition government, senior leaders from the community in the Congress, who feel that their bargaining power may increase with unity, are scheduled to meet in Bengaluru to discuss pre-poll and post-poll political scenarios to chalk out the future course of action.
While the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha is learnt to be setting a common stage for a discussion next week, leaders who were part of the Lingayat movement last year are also expected to participate. “Some leaders, who had earlier participated in Lingayat movement, have been in touch with us over the issue. In turn, we have also spoken to seers, who opposed the separate movement, and have taken concurrence for such a meeting to take place for the good of the community,” a senior Veerashaiva Mahasabha functionary said.
Among others, former Ministers Shamanur Shivashankarappa, president of the Mahasabha, and former Minister and leader of Lingayat movement M.B. Patil — both of whom were lobbying for the Deputy Chief Minister’s post — are likely to take part, he said. The meeting is being staged in the light of the reduced number of Cabinet berths going to the community, and the denial of a Deputy CM’s post, a demand the Mahasabha had made before the Cabinet formation.
“We had expected at least five berths, including a Dy. CM’s post. Now we feel that division in the community has been used to keep away senior leaders from the Cabinet. For the larger good of the community, back-channel conversations have been taking place since Friday,” he added. “As many as four Veerashaiva and Lingayat leaders elected from Janata Dal (Secular) have been accommodated. In the Congress, we have 16 legislators from the community and we are seeking better representation in the Cabinet.”