Tiptur: BJP President Amit Shah on Monday maintained that the Siddaramaiah government's move to accord separate religious minority status to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats was aimed at preventing B S Yeddyurappa from becoming Chief Minister.
"This Siddaramaiah government has brought this proposal, not because it has love for Lingayats, but to prevent Yeddyurappa from becoming Chief Minister," he said addressing a Coconut Growers Convention in Tiptur, as he began his two-day tour of election-bound Karnataka.
"I want to tell Karnataka people that if BJP wins a majority, we will make Yeddyurappa Chief Minister," he added.
Mr Yeddyurappa is considered a Lingayat strongman.
The state cabinet had recently decided to recommend to the centre to accord religious minority status to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, in a move seen as an attempt to chip away at the BJP's strong Lingayat voter base.
Mr Shah said that the proposal, which was rejected by the then Manmohan Singh government at the centre in 2013, was only aimed at creating confusion among people.
He, however, believed that the people of the state would not be enticed by Siddaramaiah's "divide-and-rule politics."
Congress President Rahul Gandhi should first point fingers at Siddaramaiah for dividing people before accusing BJP of it, Mr Shah said.
He also likened Siddaramaiah's divide-and-rule politics to that of the British.
"The Congress ship is sinking and to save it,the Congress is making its last efforts, and what it is doing? It is making efforts to divide people. The Congress Chief Minister is playing divide-and-rule politics of the British," Mr Shah said.
He also criticised the Siddaramiah government for not bringing in the proposal earlier.
"The Siddaramaiah government has proposed to accord religion and minority status to Lingayats, but why did it not do it earlier? Because that time, there was no need for gaining votes," the BJP president said.
He also launched a scathing attack on the Siddaramaiah government for failing to prevent farmers' suicides.
"In five years of Siddaramaiah's rule, as many as 3,781 farmers committed suicides. I want to ask the government, who is responsible for these suicides?" he asked.
"If you vote Yeddyurappa to become Chief Minister, I assure you farmers' suicides will come to a halt," he said.
At a meeting in Shivamogga, the home district of Yeddyurappa, Shah said all development works in Karnataka under the Siddaramaiah government had come to a standstill.
He alleged that the Rs 40-lakh watch controversy has exposed Siddaramaiah's corrupt practises.
"Siddaramaiah seeks proof from us about his corrupt practices.I have a big list before me,but everyone knows about Siddaramaiah wearing a Rs 40 lakh watch, which has only exposed his corruption and false credential of a socialist leader," he said.
A controversy had arisen in May 2016 over Siddaramaiah wearing a gifted diamond-studded Hublot watch, whose value was then estimated at Rs 70 lakh.
But after the row erupted, he had handed it over to the assembly speaker with a request to treat it as a state asset.
Mr Shah urged the people to ask the Siddaramaiah government where the grants given by the Centre had vanished.
He said the Modi government has introduced 112 central schemes, but their benefits were not reaching people.
Mr Shah also likened the Siddaramaiah government to a burnt electricity transformer and asked people to overthrow it because the grants by the Centre for various central schemes were not percolating down to the people.
Mr Shah also held a massive roadshow in Shivamogga, where he launched the state BJP's "Karunadu Jagruti Yatre' a rally to awaken the electorate of Karnataka against the "misrule" of the Siddaramaiah government.
The BJP president began his two-day tour by seeking the blessings of Sri Shivakumara Swami of Siddhaganga Mutt in Tumakuru, a revered seer of the Lingayat community.
Mr Shah's meeting with the seer is being seen as an attempt to reach out to the Lingayats/Veeshaivas, who are numerically and politically powerful in the state and form a major voter base for the BJP.
The visit assumes significance as it comes in the backdrop of the state government's move to recommend to the centre to accord a religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats to try and wean away a section of them from BJP.
"Today I had the good fortune to seek blessings from the 'Walking God' Sri Sri Sri Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddhaganga Mutt, Tumakuru. His tireless work even at his advanced age is inspiring. His life is a living lesson and guiding light for all of us," Mr Shah said in a tweet.