Tumakuru (Karna), Apr 4 (PTI) Congress president Rahul Gandhi today visited the Lingayat seminary Siddhaganga Mutt here and sought the blessings of Sri Shivakumara Swami, the highly revered seer of the community.

On the fifth lap of his two-day election tour in Karnataka, Gandhi visited the Mutt and met the 111-year old seer along with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and KPCC President G Parameshwara.

Gandhi’s visit comes against the backdrop of the Siddaramaiah government’s move to recommend to the Centre grant of religious minority status to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, who are politically powerful.

The state government’s action was seen as an attempt to divide the votes of Lingayats,who constitute about 17 per cent of the state population and form a strong vote base of BJP.

BJP is projecting Lingayat strongman, former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, as its chief ministerial face.

On all his earlier tours, Gandhi had visited temples and other religious places.

BJP president Amit Shah has also visited the Siddaganga Mutt seer and other Lingayat and Veerashaiva pontiffs during his tours.

Shah had also met the seers of Dalits and Backward Classes in an attempt to reach out to the communities from these sections.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.