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    Two Cabinet ministers back BS Yediyurappa, ask Panchamasalis to pause protests

    Synopsis

    Both the ministers, who had so far publicly endorsed the rally led by heads of two religious mutts seeking reservation under the 2A category, launched a blistering attack on BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and former Congress legislator Vijayanand Kashappanavar. The duo, the ministers said, were fomenting trouble and misleading the community for personal political gains.

    Cabinet colleagues CC Patil and Murugesh Nirani on Monday sought to ring-fence chief minister BS Yediyurappa from further attacks from their own Panchamasali members a day after the community put up a big show in Bengaluru pressing for a generous reservation quota.

    Both the ministers, who had so far publicly endorsed the rally led by heads of two religious mutts seeking reservation under the 2A category, launched a blistering attack on BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and former Congress legislator Vijayanand Kashappanavar. The duo, the ministers said, were fomenting trouble and misleading the community for personal political gains.

    The ministers said they still supported the cause and urged the community leaders to pause the agitation and allow some time to the government to take a view. Panchamasalis are a dominant subsect of Lingayats.

    “It did not appear like a Panchamasali rally, but resembled a Congress or Kashappanavar’s convention. Yatnal is the B team of the Congress and his remarks against Yediyurappa are not acceptable,” mines and geology minister Nirani said while addressing the media on Monday.

    The two ministers ,who had shared the stage at Sunday's Panchamasali event and even made speeches, said they supported the campaign hoping that it will persuade the government to address the community’s demand. The intention, they said, was never to continue the protest for a long time. What transpired following the convention was not acceptable, the ministers said.

    “The state government has referred the matter to the Backward Classes Commission. The chief minister will also soon form a committee headed by a high court judge to study recommendations of various committees on reservation-related issues and implement it. Protesters should wait,” Patil, who is the small scale industries minister, said.

    He also accused Kashappanavar and Yatnal of keeping a mutt head, Basavajaya Mrityunjaya Swami, under thier control. “I request the Swamiji to consider opinions of all leaders rather than the select few,” Patil said, while requesting the seer to drop the ongoing stir.

    Sunday’s rally was the culmination of a 700-km walkathon led by the Swami. With the Yediyurappa government buying time to respond to their demand, the seer has announced to continue the dharna till March 4 at Bengaluru’s Freedom Park and he has further warned of launching an indefinite fast if the demands are not met.

    It is going to be a tightrope walk for Yediyurappa who has come under pressure from a few other communities demanding additional reservation. Panchamasalis’ stir has particularly emerged as a challenge for the chief minister as he, so far, enjoyed the undisputed leadership of the Lingayat community.
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