Lingayat Seer Withdraws Nomination From Dharwad LS Seat; CM, Dy CM Appeal To Him To Support Congress

(MENAFN- IANS) Dharwad (Karnataka), April 23 (IANS) Prominent Lingayat seer Fakir Dingaleshwara Swamiji, who had vowed to defeat BJP candidate and Union Minister
Pralhad Joshi in Karnataka's high-profile Dharwad Lok Sabha seat, withdrew his candidature on Monday.

His representatives arrived in the District Commissioner's office and withdrew the nomination.

Following the development, Chief Minister
Siddaramaiah appealed to the seer to declare his support for the Congress. The Fakireshwara mutt of Shirahatti is a secular mutt and the seer should support the party, he said.

Deputy CM D.K. Shivakumar also called up the seer and requested him to support the Congress.

Sources say that Shirahatti's Fakireshwara mutt has a large following of oppressed classes in the region along with Lingayats, especially from the Jangama sub-caste, and the Congress feared the loss of its traditional votes from oppressed classes with the seer contesting.

Sources close to the seer said that he will soon announce his support either for the Congress or the BJP.

Earlier, the seer had claimed that all Lingayat leaders who had suffered at the hands of Joshi had backed him to contest the election. He had also alleged that Joshi played a role in the denial of an Assembly ticket to former CM Jagadish Shettar, who represented the Hubballi-Dharwad Central Assembly constituency.

The seer also charged that Joshi conspired to bring down former CM B.S. Yediyurappa from his post.

However, Yediyurappa, refuting all charges, had campaigned for Joshi and appealed for voters to elect him with a record margin.

The seer's contesting also threatened to break up the influential Lingayat vote bank
in the constituency. Sources claim that he decided to withdraw following the murder of MCA student Neha Hiremath by a jilted lover in Hubballi.

Now, the decks are cleared for a straight fight between the Union Minister
and his Congress rival Vinod Asuti, who is contesting his first Lok Sabha election, in the Dharwad Parliamentary seat, which will go for polling on May 7.



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