Congress files complaint with poll body amid row over letter on Lingayat issue
The separate religious tag for Lingayats has reared its head with the BJP in Karnataka Tuesday sharing a letter on social media, triggering a strong reaction from the Congress which has lodged a complaint with the CEO against the BJP state president and other leaders.
The Congress took the step after BJP shared a letter on its Twitter handle allegedly written by then minister M B Patil to Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi in July 2017.
This comes on a day when curtains were drawn on campaigning for 14 Lok Sabha seats, which will go to polls during the first phase in Karnataka, on April 18.
The letter, which Patil called fake, gave a roadmap to win the 2018 assembly elections by dividing Hindu society by giving separate religious minority tag for the Lingayat sect.
The letter was purportedly written on the letterhead of BLDE Association whose president was shown as Patil.
A newspaper too published a report based on the letter compelling the Congress to issue a clarification that letterhead of the organisation which was used for writing the letter itself was duplicate and did not exist.
Addressing a press conference, Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao said, “The BLDE letterhead itself is fake. There are several spelling mistakes in the letterhead. There are many shortcomings in the letterhead.” He said a website had first posted it but removed it later after learning that it was fake.
Rao alleged that the fear of losing the election prompted the BJP to resort to spreading fake information and added that it was a conspiracy.
“This is nothing but political promiscuity. I believe that people will give a befitting reply to such malpractices,” he said.
Speaking to reporters after the BJP tweeted the letter, state party president B S Yeddyurappa quoted from it and alleged that the Congress leaders were part of a conspiracy to divide society and the country.
In the complaint to the chief electoral officer (CEO), Congress social media coordinator A N Nataraj Gowda and others said the BJP state president and others used the fake letterhead of BLDE Association to polarise votes on communal lines ahead of Lok Sabha election.
The Congress leaders hinted that they would lodge a police complaint and would ask the Cyber Crime Cell of police to investigate and bring the miscreants behind the fake letter to book.
Patil in 2017 was at the forefront of recommending separate religious minority tag for the Lingayat sect, founded by social reformer Basaveshwara in 12th Century AD.
Later, the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in January passed a resolution recommending the Centre to grant religious minority tag for the Lingayats.
In December 2018, the Centre told the Karnataka High Court that it has communicated to the State government that it cannot accept the proposal, stating that the Lingayats were treated as Hindus since the first census in 1871. PTI GMS BN DIV DIV