The former chief minister said Shivakumara Swamy was the inspiration behind his flagship social welfare schemes

Walking Basavanna Former Ktaka CM Siddaramaiah remembers Siddaganga Mutt seer
news Politics Monday, January 21, 2019 - 17:32

Mourning the demise of Shivakumara Swami, the revered 111-year-old Lingayat seer of Siddaganga Mutt in Karnataka’s Tumakuru, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the religious leader was a “walking Basavanna” for him. Siddaramaiah also said that his flagship social welfare schemes were inspired by the religious leader.

Siddaramaiah tweeted, “We have not seen Basavanna through our eyes in our lifetime but I was seeing Basavanna in Sri. Dr. Shivakumara Swamiji. He was 'Walking God' for everyone but for me he was a 'Walking Basavanna'.”

In a subsequent tweet, he said, “Anna Bhagya, Ksheera Bhagya, Vidya Siri & other schemes initiated & implemented during my tenure as Chief Minister was all inspired by the selfless dedicated work of Shri Shivakumara Swamiji.”

Known for his philanthropic work, the seer was referred to as 'Nadedaduva Devaru' or 'Walking God' by thousands of his followers. He was also seen as the reincarnation of 12th-century poet-philosopher Basaveshwara or Basavanna, whose teachings formed the Lingayat religion.

Ahead of the state assembly elections in May 2018, Siddaramaiah advocated Basavanna’s philosophy as part of his poll pitch. Siddaramaiah also portrayed himself as a champion of the Ahinda cause (a Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits marginalised by dominant castes). Many of the social welfare schemes launched by Siddaramiah during his tenure as the CM were targeted towards the Ahinda vote base.

In the run-up to the elections, he had also invoked Basavanna’s teaching multiple times to speak against caste atrocities.

In a political gamble just before the elections, Siddaramiah had also supported the idea of a separate religion tag for the Lingayats, as opposed to a sect within Hinduism. In a cabinet decision, he sought the approval of the Central government to identify Lingayat as a separate religion after a state government appointed a committee suggesting the same.   

Some political analysts point to this as the reason behind the Congress falling short of the 113-seat mark in the state elections.

However, Shivakumara Swami, would never openly discuss the contentious issue.