Veerashaiva and Lingayat community leaders in Congress, who were opposed to each other over the issue of according an independent religion status to Lingayats, came together on one platform to express their united support for Congress veteran M. Mallikarjun Kharge, the party candidate for Kalaburagi Lok Sabha segment. In a huge community gathering organised at Veerashaiva Kalyan Mantap late on Friday evening, Home Minister M.B. Patil, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee working president Eshwar Khandre, Minister Rajashekhar B. Patil, former Minister Sharan Prakash Patil, party leaders Shamanur Shivashankarappa, Allam Veerabhadrappa, B.R. Patil and other leaders, called upon the people to vote for Mr. Kharge who, they said, had done a lot for the development of the Hyderabad Karnataka region.
“If you consider the development works that Mr. Kharge has accomplished in Hyderabad Karnataka region, the Kalaburagi constituency should re-elect him unopposed. The Lingayat community should completely back the senior Congressman in the Lok Sabha elections,” Mr. M.B. Patil said.
Terming BJP and RSS as ‘divisive forces’, B.R. Patil called upon the people to vote for the Congress to save the country from the right-wing BJP and RSS who he said were a threat to the secular social fabric of society and to national integrity and unity. “The very ideology of RSS and BJP has been dividing society along communal lines and polarising votes in favour of BJP. These right-wing forces are a serious threat to India’s unity,” he said.
Former Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil threw an open challenge to RSS asking it to publicly pronounce its stand on whether it would uphold the Vachana literature created by Basavanna and Sharanas (reformers) of the 12th century.
“Basavanna and other Sharanas had fought for eliminating all forms of discrimination and exploitation. Their Vachanas preach equality among people. The Congress had accepted Vachana literature as its guiding principle. If RSS has the guts, let it come out in open and publicly pronounce whether it too does the same,” he said, and appealed to the people to vote for Mr. Kharge.
“Lingayats have a strong faith in secularism and equality and they should not support the communal BJP which is known for spreading hatred among communities and dividing them,” K.B. Shanappa, former Rajya Sabha member, said to the Lingayat community.`
Congress leaders K.C. Kondaiah, M.Y. Patil, Ajay Singh, Allamaprabhu Patil, Jagadev Guttedar, Sharanabasappagowda Darshanapur, writer R.K. Hudgi and others were present.