In their pursuit to win the upcoming elections in Karnataka, the two national parties – Congress and BJP – are not only locked in a battle for votes, but are also looking to outdo each other in their efforts to reach out to seers in the state.
On Tuesday, Niranjanananda Swami, a seer at the Kanaka Guru Peetha in Kaginele in Haveri district was a wanted man.
Both BJP President Amit Shah and Congress President Rahul Gandhi sought to meet the seer who belongs to the Kuruba community.
The seer however left the BJP president red-faced after he decided to leave Kaginele and meet the Congress chief at Belludi in Davangere.
A report clarified that Niranjanandapuri Swami, a prominent seer in the region was scheduled to meet the Congress chief much earlier and therefore left Kaginele to meet him. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who belongs to the Kuruba community, was also present along with Rahul.
However, according to Manjunath, a journalist based in Haveri, the decision to meet the Congress leader instead of the BJP national president may have been a conscious one as the seer has attended events organised by Congress in the past, and has also openly spoken about his support of the party.
Meanwhile, a source in the BJP confirmed that Amit Shah was decidedly unimpressed with the way things played out and BJP leader KS Eshwarappa, who belongs to the Kuruba community, incurred the wrath of Shah's fury.
Shah is said to have given Eshwarappa a dressing down and reprimanded him for failing to arrange a meeting with the senior seer in Kaginele who belongs to the Kuruba community.
To compound matters for Amit Shah, he was also faced with a low turnout in an election rally in Kaginele.
This is not the first time the BJP chief has been caught on the wrong foot. During his visit to Chitradurga last week, Shah was taken by surprise when prominent Lingayat seer Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru of Murugarajendra mutt handed a formal memorandum to the BJP chief asking the Centre to endorse the Congress government’s move to give separate religion status to Lingayats.
Both Amit Shah and Rahul are set to continue their respective ‘temple runs’ with the Congress leader scheduled to meet Shivakumara Swami of Siddaganga mutt in Tumakuru on Wednesday. The senior Lingayat seer turned 111 on Saturday and Rahul’s visit comes a week after Amit Shah visited the senior seer on March 26.