BS Yeddyurappa 
BS Yeddyurappa (Photo: PTI)
  • 1. Who Are Lingayats?
  • 2. From a Clerk to a Lingayat Leader
  • 3. The Rise to Power
  • 4. Lingayat Leader by Coincidence
  • 5. The Janata Party Split And Entry of Yeddyurappa
How BS Yeddyurappa Emerged as Karnataka’s Lingayat Strongman

Ahead of the assembly polls in Karnataka, the BJP is the only party to have announced a chief ministerial candidate. Even though several BJP leaders, like Anantkumar Hegde, are becoming popular in the party cadre and public, BJP is still sticking with BS Yeddyurappa as their candidate for the post.

Despite corruption charges – of which he was later absolved – a rebellion which led him to float a rebel party in turn, causing a serious dent in BJP’s performance and making room for Congress’ victory last election, Yedyurappa was relaunched by Modi, appeased and promoted to the Centre and now, he’s back where he belongs  – in the state political arena.

So why is Yeddyurappa important to the BJP and why is he powerful? The answer lies in is his caste politics.

There could be other BJP leaders who are popular among the party workers, but it is Yeddyurappa who is the mass leader. He is the tallest leader for the Lingayat community, which is the largest vote bank in the state. And his rise to the position of a formidable Lingayat leader in Karnataka is result of the several decades of political events in the state’s history.

  • 1. Who Are Lingayats?

    Although the exact numbers are not known, Lingayats constitute almost 20 percent of Karnataka’s population.

    In the 12th century, social reformer Basavanna introduced the Lingayat community, distancing themselves from Veerashaivas who followed the vedas and supported the caste system.

    The new Lingayat community, instead of temple worship and casteism, were taught to worship Shiva with great rigour, and give up the ritualistic brahmin practices. Yeddyurappa, although a Lingayat leader, has been seen performing Vedic Yagas.

    The progressive nature of the new community attracted many followers from across the society. Following the death of Basavanna, over centuries, the two communities –Veerashaiva and Lingayat – merged again riding on the common thread that both worshiped Shiva, notwithstanding differences.

    In the 21st century, the terms Lingayat and Veerashaiva have been used synonymously.

    Although there is a movement to get religious status for the Lingayat community, Yeddyurappa is believer of the idea that both communities are same and a part of the Hindu religion.

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