Bengaluru, July 21 (PTI): Support continues to pour in for Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa from Mutts, as several pontiffs made a beeline to his official residence for the second consecutive day on Wednesday and threw their weight behind him, amid speculations that his exit was on the cards.

A delegation of about 40 pontiffs met Yediyurappa under the leadership of Siddalinga Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt, an influential Lingayat seminary in the State, and urged the BJP leadership to allow Yediyurappa complete his term.

A few of them have reportedly warned the saffron party of bad consequences if Yediyurappa is replaced.

"Why is it (leadership change talks) happening, when the Chief Minister is working efficiently at the time of crisis? The wish of all the Swamijis is that he should be the Chief Minister for a complete term. Earlier too, he was not Chief Minister for the complete term," Siddalinga Swamiji said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, he said all that the Chief Minister has said is that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP National President J P Nadda have shown special care towards him, and he was the only one who was given the exception to continue in the top post despite completing 75 years of age.

"Yediyurappa has said he will continue to serve the party until his last breath, but he did not say anything when asked about the resignation," the Swamiji added.

On Tuesday, over two dozen pontiffs from different parts of the State, led by Balehosur mutt's Dingaleshwar Swamy, met Yediyurappa, during which the latter had told them that he would have to abide by the decision taken by the BJP central leadership, giving some credence to speculation that a change of leadership was on the anvil.

As many as 300-400 pontiffs are expected to gather in Bengaluru in a couple of days to discuss the future course of action, sources said.

Stating that all the pontiffs are of the view that Yediyurappa, who belongs to the community, a core votebase of BJP, should continue in office and complete the term, Siddalinga Swamiji today said this is a time of crisis as rains have begun, COVID-19 third wave is likely, and if there is a change at this point in time, it would not be possible to provide a stable administration and serve the people.

"Keeping all this in mind, he (Yediyurappa) should continue and he should be there as the Chief Minister till the end of this term, this is the wish of all the seers," he said on behalf of other pontiffs.

Siddalinga Swamiji is the successor of late Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt, who was known as the 'Walking God'.

Rejecting criticism that pontiffs are indulging in politics, Siddalinga Swamiji said the pontiffs have supported all Chief Ministers, whichever party they may be from.

"We are non-partisan, but the special thing about Yediyurappa is that we want him to complete the term," he said.

Meanwhile, Mallikarjun Swamiji of Murugha mutt in Dharwad warned that BJP would face a major setback in Karnataka if Yediyurappa is replaced as he is the "foundation" for the party in the State, and that the veteran leader should be allowed to complete the term.

Stating that any government can give a good administration if there is a complete freedom, Panditaradhya Shivacharya Swami of Sanehalli Taralabalu Mutt said if Centre conspires to control the State governments any Chief Minister cannot give a complete administration as their hands would be tied, and "this is what has happened" to Yediyurappa.

Kolada Mutt Seer Dr Shantaveera Swamiji said Yediyurappa, who has brought BJP to power in South, should not be replaced, and in case it is done a Veerashaiva-Lingayat should be made the Chief Minister.

Yediyurappa is known for having provided generous grants to mutts and religious institutions during his previous term as Chief Minister, and thereby has earned their trust, according to some analysts.

Recently, amid speculations on his replacement, Yediyurappa's younger son and State BJP Vice-President B Y Vijayendra held a series of meetings with prominent Veerashaiva-Lingayat seers, which had raised eyebrows in political circles.

Community factor also seems to have come to the fore with prominent Veerashaiva-Lingayat political leaders and seers from the community throwing their weight behind Yediyurappa.

On Monday, Congress leaders Shamanur Shivashankarappa and M B Patil, also Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the head of the Chitradurga-based Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra Mutt, Sri Veera Someshwara Shivacharya Swami of Rambhapuri Peetha of Balehonnur, and Srisaila Jagadguru Channa Siddharama Panditaradhya, had warned BJP of backlash if Yediyurappa is replaced.

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Tokyo, Jul 31: Indian women's hockey team qualified for the Olympic quarterfinals after 41 years after it beat South Africa 4-3 and later defending champions Great Britain blanked Ireland 2-0 to ensure its passage into the knockout stage, here on Saturday.

India finished their group A league proceedings in fourth place with six points, riding on back-to-back wins over Ireland and South Africa and will now face pool B toppers Australia in the quarter-final on Monday.

The top four teams from each pool made it to the knockout stage.

Indian women team's best finish at the Olympics was in Moscow back in 1980 when they reached the semi-finals but ended fourth.

While Great Britain's win was required, no one can take away credit from Vandana Kataria, who scored a hat-trick in India's win in a pulsating morning clash against the South Africans.

Kataria (4th, 17th, 49th minutes) achieved a rare feat by becoming the first Indian woman hockey player to score a hat-trick in the Olympics.

Young Neha Goyal (32nd) was the other goal getter.

South Africa's goals came from the sticks of Tarryn Glasby (15th), skipper Erin Hunter (30th) and Marizen Marais (39th).

"Today's game was really tough, South Africa gave us a really good fight. They converted their chances in the circle. Defensively, we can be a lot better," skipper Rani said.

India's chief coach Sjoerd Marijne heaved a sigh of relief but was not happy with the number of goals his side conceded.

"We gave too many goals away, and I think we can score more goals, that is the main thing for today. We did what we had to do, we had to win this match, and we did," he said.

"Playing in these circumstances, you feel it, the humidity and I think it's more than 35 degrees on the pitch, it does not make it easy, he added.

Needing a win to stay alive in the competition, the Indians meant business and pressed hard on the South African defence from the start.

In doing so, India secured two penalty corners in the first two minutes of the match but drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur's poor execution continued in the tournament.

Still, it didn't take India long to open their account and in the fourth minute, Kataria gave her side the lead, tapping in from close range after being set up by Navneet Kaur's great run from the right flank.

India kept up the pressure and penetrated the South African circle many times without much success.

But seconds from the end of first quarter, a lapse in concentration from the defence cost India dearly as South Africa drew level through Tarryn Glasby, who deflected in a long shot from Taryn Mallett.

India had enough time to regain their lead through a penalty corner but wasted the opportunity.

Two minutes into the second quarter, Kataria restored India's lead when he deflected in Deep Grace Ekka's flick from their fourth penalty corner.

The Indians had three more chances to extend their lead in the second quarter but they couldn't do so.

The Rani Rampal-led side got two more penalty corners which they wasted, and then, Goyal's effort from open play was saved by the South Africa goalkeeper.

Just like in the first quarter, India gave away their lead seconds away from half time when Hunter found the net from her team's first penalty corner.

Two minutes after the change of ends, Goyal restored the lead again, deflecting in a Rani hit from a penalty corner as the Indians executed a fine variation.

The fragile Indian defence wilted under pressure once again, when South Africa drew level for the third time in the match, through a Marais strike.

South Africa enjoyed a good run of play in the initial minutes of final quarter and, in the process, secured three penalty corners quickly, but this time the Indian defence did enough to thwart the danger.

In the 49th minute, a brilliant Kataria saved the day for India when she deflected in Gurjit Kaur's flick from another penalty corner.

Thereafter, the Indians fell back and looked content to keep the possession as South Africa pressed hard.

Two minutes from the final hooter, the Indians successfully referred a penalty corner decision given against them.

"It is about consistency. Yesterday (Friday), we played a really good match. And now we have a back to back and your legs are heavier, things are not going as smoothly. So these things you just know. You saw our basics were not as good as yesterday, it is all about that," Marijne said.

"It is important to play matches. I am not someone, I hope you see that, who ever finds excuses, but we just have not done it. I don't blame anyone, it is just the way it is."

Marijne feels the knockout stage would be different ball game from the group stage.

"The tournament starts again. If you play well, or not well in the pool matches it does not matter, it starts all over.

"It will be another type of game because it is high pressure, everything or nothing. The good thing is we had that in the last two matches, so we have already experienced that."