After Yeddy who? How will BJP retain its Lingayat base?
Writing on the wall says that sooner or later BS Yeddyurappa will be in margadarshak mandal - the BJP panel for senior leaders- probably after 2019 general elections. With BSY's exit, the question of a leadership vacuum in Lingayat community arises. BSY is also equally responsible for the current challenge the community is staring at. He did not bother to create a second rung leadership in the party and community as well.
It is well known that former chief minister Jagadish Shettar cannot match BSY's charisma and the spirit of leadership in the community and party as well. In fact, he had lost the intra-party ballot held for the CM post after BSY stepped down due to de-notification scam.
The last Lingayat chief minister from Congress party was late Veerendra Patil. Under his leadership, as a result of anti-incumbency wave and the split in the Janata party the Congress won 178 out of 224 MLA seats, which is its largest victory to-date. However, he was unceremoniously removed by the then Congress President Rajeev Gandhi. This anti-Congress sentiment led the community to follow BS Yeddyurappa and ensured unwavering support to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Congress' counter to the BJP in North Karnataka Vinay Kulkarni and MB Patil seriously lack the stature and credibility to take the community into confidence as a whole. Their association with Lingayat movement for separate religion has done irreparable damage to their political career. Vinay Kulkarni lost the election from Dharwad constituency (The Lingayat issue was one of the reasons for his defeat). Another senior leader in Congress, Shamanur Shivashankarappa is ageing and he is at the end of his political career. Unfortunately, he rose only in the ranks of the Congress party but did not grow as a mass leader.
As far as Janata the Dal (S) is concerned Lingayat leaders have a nominal presence in the party. Basavaraj Horatti cannot outshine HD Kumaraswamy.
The challenge Lingayat community is staring at has a lesson for other communities as well. En masse support to only one political party in a multi-party democratic system is not a good idea. Better they learn from Vokkaliga community. DK Shivakumar in Congress and CM - designate HD Kumaraswamy failed all the nefarious designs by the BJP in luring Lingayat leaders ahead of the floor test. Both Vokkaliga leaders, though don't have friendly past, achieved what they wanted to on a crucial day.
BS Yeddyurappa's exit is not the end of the road for Lingayats. However, a new face is not in sight yet.