Bengaluru, May 3 (PTI) Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday paid floral tributes to the bust and statue of 12th century social reformer and Lingayat saint Basaveshwara here, on his birth anniversary.
The move is seen as a reach out to Lingayats, a dominant community who have significant presence across the state and are considered as a strong vote bank of the ruling BJP, ahead of Karnataka Assembly polls next year.
He was accompanied by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, state BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel, party national General Secretary C T Ravi, several ministers of the state cabinet, among others.
Ahead of the 2018 Assembly polls too, Shah, then as BJP national President had paid floral tributes to the same statue at Basaveshwara Circle here, close to Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the state legislature and secretariat.
Basaveshwara, popularly known as Basavanna, whose birth anniversary is celebrated as “Basava Jayanti”, is a public holiday in Karnataka.
Shah, who arrived in the city late last night, will be attending various events and a meeting at the state BJP office on Tuesday.
Basaveshwara was a philosopher, social reformer and statesman who attempted to create a casteless society and fought against caste and religious discrimination. He spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as “Vachanaas”.
Lingayats/Veerashaivas, a community which owes allegiance to Basaveshwara, constitute an estimated 17 per cent of the state’s population, with substantial presence, especially in the northern parts of the state.
The politically influential community is considered to have significant presence in about 140 of the total 224 assembly constituencies in the state, and decisive in about 90 seats, according to political observers.
Both Chief Minister Bommai, state BJP strongman B S Yediyurappa hail from the community.
Shah’s visit to the city comes amid buzz over possible changes in the leadership, and pressure to rejig or expand the cabinet, ahead of Assembly polls in 2023.