Siddaramaiah's move of giving separate religion status to Lingayat was initially seen as a masterstroke. The move was clearly aimed at both dividing the BJP's vote bank and appeasing the Lingayat community, but it is not panning out as expected by Siddaramaiah. Recent opinion polls have found that the Lingayat issue is not determining the vote choice; those favouring separate religion status are favouring BJP even more.
According to the ABP survey 60 per cent of the Lingayats to vote for the saffron party despite Siddaramaiah's master stroke. Also, an overwhelming majority says Congress is not going to benefit from raising this issue, directly or indirectly. And this sentiment is cutting across the region.
However, 3 in every 5 Lingayats support the idea of getting a separate religion status for their community, it said.
As per Times Now survey, the separate religion tag for Lingayats would not benefit the Congress much. The poll predicted that the party would win 21 of the 50 seats in the Mumbai-Karnataka region, where the community is dominant. This is 10 seats less than in 2013 when the party won 31 seats in the region. The BJP, which won 13 seats in the region in 2013, is predicted to get 23 seats.
The Lingayat community, which makes up 17% of the state's population and is the largest chunk, traditionally supports the BJP, especially in northern Karnataka. The community has a large presence in central Karnataka, especially in Davanagere, Chitradurga and Shivamogga.
The latest move appears to be a bid by Congress to split BJP's Lingayat vote base. The Congress hopes the move will get the support from the Lingayat community.
Approximately one-third of Karnataka voters say that this controversy could yield great results for Congress. In fact, Lingayat voters are even more pessimistic on the political fallout than the non-Lingayat voters.
Karnataka has so far had nine chief ministers belonging to the Lingayat community.