The Water Resources Minister in the Siddaramaiah cabinet polled 98,339 votes to win by a margin of 29,715 votes.

MB Patil Congress face of Lingayat movement for separate religion wins Babaleshwar
Karnataka Elections Karnataka 2018 Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 17:02

Congress minister MB Patil has won from the Babaleshwar constituency for the second consecutive time with a margin of 29,715 votes.

The Water Resources Minister in the Siddaramaiah cabinet polled 98,339 votes against BJP’s Vijugouda Patil who finished a runner-up with 68,624 votes.

In the 2013 legislative assembly polls, Patil had won 62,061 votes in the constituency, and had defeated Vijugouda Patil who was then with the JD(S) by a margin of 4,355 votes. The BJP candidate MS Rudragoudara polled a paltry 4,067 votes. The KJP which split the BJP vote polled 2,646 votes with their candidate Basappa Honawad.

Lingayat factor

Coming from the Lingayat community with a strong presence in Bijapur, Patil became the face of the campaign to declare it a separate religion in 2017. However, this was in stark contrast to his views just four years earlier.

The Congress leader had, in July 2013, written to the Mahasabha’s president Shamanuru Shivasharanappa stating that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one and the same, and they should be considered a separate religion.

However, in July 2017, the senior Congress leader wrote to the pontiffs of the Veerashaiva Mutts and said that there is a necessity for Lingayats to obtain a minority religion status. He went on to urge the pontiffs of various Lingayat and Veerashaiva Mutts to organise a meeting and discuss the technicalities of the matter.

His flip flop on the issue had not gone unnoticed by religious leaders who hold sway in and around the Bijapur district.

In March this year, the Siddaramaiah government gave minority status to Lingayats and Veerashaivas who follow Basava Tatva.

Congress

Patil, hailing from a Congress family had even reportedly convinced Sonia Gandhi to hold a rally in the Bijapur district while Congress President Rahul Gandhi also went on to hold a rally.

The Rashtriya Basava Dal is reported to have campaigned for the Congress as opposed to the Pancha Peetha Veerashaivas, who were rooting for the BJP.

Patil had also campaigned to accord Babaleshwar, taluk status in 2009, when the Taluk Reorganisation Committee headed by MB Prakash was the only committee that did not recommend the constituency for the status.

Patil played a big role in Karnataka's legal battle in the Cauvery dispute with Tamil Nadu. As Water Resources Minister, he religiously attended Supreme Court proceedings on the matter, even shouting out answers to judges' questions in court.

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