Lingayat group tries to march to Amit Shah’s address venue in Bengaluru, detained
Bengaluru Police foiled an attempt by a group to stage a demonstration near a Basaveshwara statue in the city demanding separate religion tag to Lingayats shortly before BJP president Amit Shah’s visit here.
Shah garlanded the statue of the 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara on his birth anniversary celebrated as “Basava Jayanti”, a public holiday.
Police said the protesters, claiming to be from a group related to the Lingayat community, carried posters demanding separate religion status and tried to proceed towards Shah’s address venue near the state secretariat Vidhana Soudha. They wanted to seek his response to the community’s demand.
”We detained them as a preventive measure,” a police official said.
Shah is on a two-day visit to Bengaluru from Wednesday as part of the seventh leg of his tour of Karnataka to boost the BJP’s prospects in the May 12 Assembly polls. During Wednesday’s event, the BJP chief tore into the Congress over the Mecca Masjid issue and the ‘bogey of Hindu terrorism’, reports ANI.
“For several years, Congress defamed the country around the world by using terms such as ‘saffron terror’ and ‘Hindu terror’. Rahul (Gandhi) ji, terror has no religion. Now Congress says it never used those words. But many Congress leaders are on record using those terms, including chief minister Siddaramaiah,” Shah said, according to ANI.
BJP has been criticising the Siddaramaiah government’s move towards granting “religious minority” tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats ahead of the Assembly polls as an attempt to divide the Hindu community.
The state cabinet had on March 19 decided to recommend to the Centre grant of religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats. The state government’s decision was based on the report of an expert committee that had recommended considering grant of recognition as religious minority to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats (believers of Basava Tatva philosophy).
Subsequently, the Karnataka minorities welfare department notified Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats as a religious minority, but said it would come into effect after the Centre’s approval of recommendation.
The Siddaramaiah government’s move is seen as a bid to cut into the Lingayat vote base of the BJP. During his visits, Shah has been reaching out to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, meeting their seers and holding meetings with their groups apparently to ensure that the Congress does not cut into its voter base.
(With ANI inputs)