Dharwad: The mother of slain BJP zilla panchayat member Yogeeshgouda Goudar has shot off a letter to their community’s powerful pontiff – Jagadguru Sri Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swamiji – on Saturday asking him not to back her son’s killers.
Yogeeshgouda Goudar was hacked to death by five to six men in his own gym in June 2016 allegedly over a property dispute.
Jagadguru Sri Basava Jaya Mruthunjaya Swamiji is a powerful pontiff of Lingayat community, to which both Kulkarni and Goudar families belong.
The pontiff met family members of Vinay Kulkarni who was arrested, where he stated that he would stand with the family who have been wronged. “Vinay and his family has blessings of Siddharuda, Akkamma and all several Lingayat saints,” he said after Vinay Kulkarni was taken into the CBI custody.
The pontiff’s statement had kicked off a row as it had put the ruling BJP in a tight spot. The ruling party largely draws it electoral strength from Lingayat community, ever since it gained foothold in Karnataka three decades ago.
It appears to be damage control exercise, as Goudar’s mother Tungevva Goudar wrote a letter to the seer emotionally asserting that she being a widow, belongs to the same community and she lost her son at a very young age. “Swamiji did you not see any injustice meted out to me?” she asks emotionally.
She further accused that then people in power (Vinay) even did not spare her surviving son Gurunathgouda Goudar, who was put behind bars by fixing him in an allegedly false case.
The slain BJP leader’s murder took a political colour, nearly a year later in 2017, when his elder brother Gurunathgouda Goudar started making a slew of charges against Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni who was then Mines and Geology minister in the Congress government.
At the juncture, Kulkarni was busy in leading a movement to demand ‘Lingayat’ as separate religion in the state. The movement was spearheaded by none other than Lingayat pontiff Sri Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swamji.
The Karnataka BJP lapped it up and made it an election issue in 2018, as a result of this, Kulkarni lost to his BJP rival Amrut Desai by 20,000 votes from Dharwad Assembly constituency and in 2019 general election against Union minister Prahalad Joshi, as the BJP had succeeded in projecting Yogeeshgouda’s murder as a political killing, and promised a CBI probe.
In March 2019, the High Court had rejected Gurunathagouda and his mother’s plea seeking a CBI probe, stating there were no grounds. But the BJP government challenged this and filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, against the High Court order on a CBI probe. The apex court stayed the HC order and allowed investigation by the CBI. The CBI took over investigation on the recommendation of the Yediyurappa government in September 2019.