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Apr 28, 2012 at 11:05pm IST

Karnataka bypolls: Sonia visits Tumkur, woos Lingayats, shown black flags

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi visited the Tumkur region in Karnataka on Saturday apparently in a bid to woo the Lingayat community ahead of the 2013 bypolls in the state. Sonia attended the birthday celebrations of the highly respected Lingayat seer Shivakumara Swami at 'Siddaganga math', which is reportedly one of India's oldest.

However, a woman protestor at the rally waved black flags at the leader and was immediately taken down by women constables.

The Lingayats are the single largest caste in the state and account for 18 per cent of votes. The community traditionally votes for the BJP and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa has emerged their undisputed leader in recent years.

Sonia's visit to the region is important since the Lingayats are politically and economically, the most powerful in the region.

Without Lingayat support, no party can hope to come to power on its own in Karnataka.

Sources say that Yeddyurappa's ouster has resulted in disenchantment among the Lingayats. Majority of them are reportedly unhappy with BJP national leadership.