Karnataka: Dingaleshwar Swami withdraws nomination against BJP’s Prahlad Joshi

Dingaleshwar Swami is the head of the Shirahatti Fakireshwar Mutt. He is likely to support the Congress candidate Vinod Asuti in the polls.
File Photo of Dingaleshwar Swami
File Photo of Dingaleshwar Swami
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Dingaleshwar Swami, the Lingayat seer who threatened to contest the polls as an independent from Dharwad to defeat the BJP’s candidate Pralhad Joshi, withdrew his nomination papers on Wednesday, April 22, ending weeks of drama. 

Dingaleshwar Swami is the head of the Shirahatti Fakireshwar Mutt. He is likely to support the Congress candidate Vinod Asuti. Swami told the media in Hubballi that he had withdrawn from the race on the advice of his “guru”. However, he maintained that he would continue the “dharma yuddha” (religious war) against Joshi whom he has accused of suppressing leaders of other communities. 

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told the media on Wednesday that he had requested the seer to withdraw his nomination and support the Congress candidate Vinod Asuti, a Kuruba. Asuti, a political novice, is perceived to be a weak candidate. After Dingaleshwar Swami announced he would contest, there was speculation that the Congress would drop its own candidate and throw its weight behind the seer. 

Dingaleshwar Swami’s candidature had turned the Dharwad Lok Sabha contest into a three-way fight between the BJP, Congress and the seer himself. The BJP has been winning in the Dharwad region since 1996, when the constituency was called Dharwad North Lok Sabha seat. The Dharwad South seat was still a Congress bastion until delimitation; the current parliamentary segment was created in 2008 after delimitation. Joshi has won from the Dharwad seat since.  

Earlier, a group of Lingayat seers had opposed Joshi’s candidature alleging that he had insulted Lingayats. They claimed that he had also suppressed leaders from other communities and demanded the BJP to not offer him a ticket. However, the BJP’s Parliamentary board member and Lingayat leader BS Yediyurappa said that the party would not change the candidate and instead attempt to clear up the misunderstanding with the seer. Joshi, a Brahmin, has maintained a studied silence, refusing to say anything critical about the seer and merely stating that he would accept the seer’s remarks and actions as “blessings”.

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