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Cong to work on Lingayat vote bank in K'taka

Bengaluru, Oct 8 (IANS) The Congress high command is considering wooing the Lingayat vote bank, which is presently supporting the BJP in Karnataka by giving representation to leaders of the community at the state and national levels.

Congress sources said that the party has taken a decision in this regard after former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa's exit from the post.

Congress top brass is contemplating that along with Opposition leader Siddaramaiah, leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, known as the mass leaders representing oppressed classes, and D.K. Shivakumar, being the leader of the dominant Vokkaliga community, one from the Lingayat community could provide the political push. And, this combination could help to boost the prospectus of the party in the Assembly elections in 2023.

The Lingayat vote bank en masse moved into the fold of BJP after former Prime Minister Late Rajiv Gandhi unceremoniously removed Veerendra Patil from the office by announcing his exit from the airport in 1990. Patil was credited with mobilizing the Lingayats back to the Congress and was instrumental in its biggest ever victory in 1989. The Congress party had then won 179 of 224 Assembly seats.

Sources in the Congress said that the suggestion was made by Siddaramaiah during his meeting with Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi during his visit to New Delhi recently. The party is now contemplating giving the post of AICC General Secretary and groom a Lingayat face at the national level.

It is said that senior Congress leaders and former ministers S.R. Patil, M.B. Patil, KPCC Working President Eshwar Khandre hailing from the Lingayat community could be given the opportunity.