Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's decision to stay away from visiting the Udupi Sri Krishna Mutt even when President Pranab Mukherjee was visiting has upset many Congress leaders. This decision, they feel, will deeply dent their image, especially in the Coastal Karnataka, when the state goes to elections next year.
The chief minister was expected to accompany the president to Udupi as per the protocol. President Pranab Mukherjee visited the Sri Krishna Mutt and also laid foundation stone for the BRS Health and Research Institute being built by the entrepreneur BR Shetty. However, Siddaramaiah accompanied the president up to the HAL airport but did not join him, much to the chagrin of the Congress leaders, reports Vijaya Vani.
In fact, Paryaya Pejawar seer Sri Vishveshatheertha swamiji had extended him an official invitation to the chief minister to visit the temple and mutt along with the President. However, the latter chose to ignore it. Siddaramaiah has not visited the temple/mutt for the past 12 years and the stand-off continued this year too.
It is said that Siddaramaiah had opposed the temple authorities' decision to demolish the Kanaka Gopura said to have been built by late Vidyapurna Teertha of Krishnapur Mutt, inside the Krishna temple in 2005. The temple authorities had chosen to demolish it as it was dilapidated. However, this was strongly opposed by Siddaramaiah and other Kuruba leaders. Although, the gopura was later rebuilt exactly where the old structure was once stood, it did not please the Kuruba community leaders. The gopura which is named after saint poet Kanakadasa is said to belonged to the Kuruba community.
But, the Congress leaders had expected Siddaramaiah to keep his ego aside and join the President to Udupi Mutt. This - they thought - would have eased the tension between the Udupi Mutt and Siddaramaiah - at least in the name of protocol. They also felt that Siddaramaiah's visit to the temple could have helped the party in the region in gaining upper communities' support in the next election. But the chief minister has let them down and this would certainly impact the party's prospects in the next year's election. They felt that Siddaramaiah simply lost an opportunity that could have scripted a new beginning for the Congress party at least in this region.