Amit Shah in Karnataka: BJP jumps into Kannada debate, calls it priority

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On the day Amit Shah arrived in Bengaluru, the BJP state unit jumped into the ongoing language debate. The state BJP has now said that Kannada is priority in Karnataka and there would be no compromise.

BJP president Amit Shah waves to his supporters upon his arrival on a three-day visit to Karnataka as part of his nationwide tour, in Bengaluru

The Congress in Karnataka had put the BJP on the backfoot with its open pro-Kannada and anti-Hindi imposition moves. Caught between the BJP senior leadership's Hindi push and Karnataka's anti-Hindi imposition sentiment, the state BJP could not, so far, take a crystal clear stand on the issue. On the day Amit Shah visited the state, however, the scenario seems to have changed.

"Kannada is priority in Karnataka and there is no two ways about it. Our stand is clear, Kannada is not just a language for us, it is our faith. But we do not want to politicise Kannada. It is our language and not a political agenda. The local language of every state is most important," said BJP leader Suresh Kumar. The BJP office was jubiliant as it welcomed its National President Amit Shah on Saturday.

In a series of meetings held at the state headquarters, Amit Shah is said to have given clarity on what the party's stand should be on various issues that the Congress has been cashing on. Post the interaction with Shah, leaders of the state BJP now are all set to take on their political rivals with more clarity and vigour. Following a series of meetings with office bearers, MLAs and MPs from the state Shah in scheduled to interact with people from various fields including business, religion, medicine and art on Saturday.

Many of those invited for the Saturday evening meeting are expected to help BJP pave the way to prepare for election. Those invited also include Kannada actor and director Upendra who nurtures political ambitions but has refrained from openly supporting any political party.

Speaking on the Lingayat religious status row, BJP leaders said that they were confident of the community finding a solution from within. Lingayats are a huge voter base for the BJP considering its Chief Ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa belongs to the community. The BJP has managed to build a massive support base in North Karnataka thanks to the Lingayat voter base. While the BJP in the state had been mum over the demand for separate religious status to Lingayats, its leaders on Saturday said that there was no intention to intervene since it was important to keep the issue apolitical.

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