Karnataka minister Vinay Kulkarni with Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swamiji of Kudalasangama Panchamasali Peetha and his followers celebrate in Bengaluru on Monday after the state government decided to write to the Centre to grant religious minority status to the Lingayat community.(PTI)
Karnataka minister Vinay Kulkarni with Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swamiji of Kudalasangama Panchamasali Peetha and his followers celebrate in Bengaluru on Monday after the state government decided to write to the Centre to grant religious minority status to the Lingayat community.(PTI)

Minority status for Lingayats: Who they are and how they affect Karnataka elections

With an eye on the Karnataka assembly elections, chief minister Siddaramaiah recommended minority status for the Lingayat sect — a community which holds sway over 90 of the state’s 224 assembly seats.
By Vikram Gopal | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 20, 2018 09:05 PM IST

The Siddaramaiah government’s decision to recommend religious minority status for the Lingayat sect, which till now was considered part of the Hindu fold, is likely to have an impact when Karnataka votes for the new assembly in the coming weeks.

Variously described as an astute political move and sheer opportunism, the Karnataka government’s decision, sent for approval to the Centre, will be a major talking point.

Will the gamble pay off for the ruling Congress or boomerang on it? We will only get to know once the elections are called. Till then here is an explainer:

Who are the Lingayats?

The Lingayat sect traces its origins to 12th century philosopher Basavanna, who was born a Brahmin but rejected the caste and ritual-based Hindu tradition.

His followers continued to be critical of Hindu practices and followed up with a series of poems — vachanas — that called for the abolition of caste and sought the betterment of women among other things.

The Lingayats believe in the ishta linga, which is said to be formless, and called for an end to idol worship.

There are two sets of followers of Basavanna, who attracted people from both upper and lower castes. One group of his followers, called Veerashaivas, who consider Basavanna to be a later-day saint belonging to the Shaiva tradition, continued to follow many of the practices he had rejected, said historian S Shettar.

The government has recognised Veerashaivas-Lingayats as a group within the Lingayat community.

Why do they want a separate religion?

According to SM Jamdar, a retired IAS officer who is spearheading the demand, the Lingayats are reasserting their separate identity, which existed in the 1871 Census of India. They were subsequently classified under Hindu religion in the 1881 Census.

Was the demand made earlier?

The sect had twice asked the Census of India to provide a separate code for Lingayats. On both occasions, in 2004 and 2013, the demand was for the recognition of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat sect but it was rejected.

Lingayat leaders believe it was because of the use of the word Shaiva, which is part of the Shaivite tradition of Hinduism.

“Lingayat is the name of the sect founded by Basavanna,” said Jamdar. “The Veerashaivas were a group that came into the fold in the 17th century.”

The latest push

The demand resurfaced in 2017 after Siddaramaiah asked the two groups to arrive at a consensus over the demand, which he said he would consider. Once the request came in, an expert committee was set up in December to look into the matter.

What were the panel recommendations?

After considering many documents, including the 1871 Census, the panel was of the view that the Lingayats were a separate religious group, a member said. “Apart from the 1871 Census, there were also the gazetteers of Coorg and Madras, and ethonographical studies that we relied upon to arrive at the decision,” the member said on condition of anonymity.

What does it mean for other minority groups?

State minister MB Patil, among those favouring separate religion tag, said no benefits would be taken away from existing minority groups. The Lingayats are classified as a backward class and enjoy five per cent reservation in education institutes.

Impact on the assembly election

The Lingayats are a dominant group in the state’s northern region, which accounts for 90 of the 224 seats in the assembly. Eight of the state’s 22 chief ministers belonged to this sect, including the BJP’s current chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa.

Many prominent personalities, including journalist Gauri Lankesh and Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi, who were both shot dead, were Lingayats.

Exact numbers are not available, but Jamdar says Lingayats account for 15% of Karnataka’s population. A leaked caste census report put the number at 9% but this was denied by the state government.

Read | Siddaramaiah govt playing ‘divide and rule’ by giving separate religion status to Lingayats: BJP

Siddaramaiah is eyeing the group for electoral gains and has made many overtures to it, including making it mandatory to have portraits of Basavanna in government offices and naming the women’s university in the state after Akka Mahadevi, a philosopher of the Lingayat tradition.

The Congress attempted to please all sides by recommending minority status for the Lingayats and the Veerashaivas, political analyst Narendar Pani said. “It will be very hard for other parties to oppose this as the chief minister has ensured that both sides benefit,” he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Before the restrictions were imposed, nearly 70 flights per week were operating between the two countries, according to DGCA with 10 flights operating per day. (FILE PHOTO).
Before the restrictions were imposed, nearly 70 flights per week were operating between the two countries, according to DGCA with 10 flights operating per day. (FILE PHOTO).

India extends restrictions on flights from UK till February 14

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:34 PM IST
  • On December 21, India joined a growing list of countries to seal off access to people who have been to the UK, suspending all flights to and from the country between December 23 and December 31 in order to stop the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus.
Close
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav met father Lalu Prasad at Ranchi hospital with brother Tej Pratap and mother Rabri Devi.(PTI Photo/Representative)
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav met father Lalu Prasad at Ranchi hospital with brother Tej Pratap and mother Rabri Devi.(PTI Photo/Representative)

RJD eyes Bengal, Assam assembly polls, considers pacts with TMC, Congress-AIUDF

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:32 PM IST
  • The RJD is looking to contest seven to eight seats in West Bengal and 12 seats in Assam.
Close
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar who holds the portfolios of information and broadcasting and environment and forests praised the Delhi Police for its handling of the situation on the ground at Red Fort on Republic Day. (RAJ K RAJ/HT PHOTO).
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar who holds the portfolios of information and broadcasting and environment and forests praised the Delhi Police for its handling of the situation on the ground at Red Fort on Republic Day. (RAJ K RAJ/HT PHOTO).

Congress stoking unrest due to poor show in polls, says Javadekar

By Smriti Kak Ramachandran | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:11 PM IST
  • A day after violence broke out in the Capital when a section of protesting farmers marched to the Red Fort, Javadekar said, the government has already held 10 rounds of talks with the farmers and offered to put in abeyance the farm laws for 18 months, but the Congress does not want a resolution.
Close
Municipal workers in PPE look on as passengers from United Kingdom arrive at Mumbai airport.(PTI File Photo)
Municipal workers in PPE look on as passengers from United Kingdom arrive at Mumbai airport.(PTI File Photo)

Govt extends restrictions on flights between India and UK till Feb 14

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:03 PM IST
The World Health Organisation announced on Wednesday that the UK variant of the disease has spread to 70 countries.
Close
The Congress attacked Home Minister Amit Shah for the violence in Delhi during the tractor parade on Tuesday(PTI file)
The Congress attacked Home Minister Amit Shah for the violence in Delhi during the tractor parade on Tuesday(PTI file)

Cong sharpens attack on Centre for violence in Delhi. Amit Shah is the target

UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 09:59 PM IST
  • The Congress said the violence during the tractor parade in Delhi was a concerted conspiracy, aided and abetted by the government to malign the entire farmers’ movement against the three farm laws
Close
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar addresses the media at a press conference in New Delhi. (ANI Photo)
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar addresses the media at a press conference in New Delhi. (ANI Photo)

Congress, Rahul Gandhi instigated farmers protest, claims Prakash Javadekar

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Arpan Rai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 09:35 PM IST
Referring to the unfurling of a flag from the ramparts of Red Fort, Javadekar said, "India won't tolerate the manner in which the Tricolour was insulted at the Red Fort."
Close
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing office bearers of UDF in Wayanad, his constituency in north Kerala. (HT PHOTO).
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressing office bearers of UDF in Wayanad, his constituency in north Kerala. (HT PHOTO).

Congress to field mix of youth and experience for Kerala polls: Rahul Gandhi

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 09:33 PM IST
  • On a two day visit to his constituency, he will kick-start the party’s election campaign in Kerala and meet many local leaders.
Close
Akash Pathak who is accused of orchestrating a job scam with his father Abhay Pathak. Both were arrested last month.(Facebook)
Akash Pathak who is accused of orchestrating a job scam with his father Abhay Pathak. Both were arrested last month.(Facebook)

Odisha govt fails to file charges, IFS officer, son get bail in corruption case

By Debabrata Mohanty
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 09:29 PM IST
  • The Odisha Vigiance Department which had accused teh IFS officer of amassing disproportionate assets worth 9.35 crore had claimed that it was the biggest case of disproportionate assets in its history.
Close
File photo of Fatima Safa, during Rahul Gandhi's previous visit to Kerala in 2019.(ANI Photo)
File photo of Fatima Safa, during Rahul Gandhi's previous visit to Kerala in 2019.(ANI Photo)

Kerala student wins praise for flawlessly translating Rahul Gandhi's speech

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 09:01 PM IST
The former Congress president is on a two-day visit to Wayanad. The visit comes in the wake of Assembly elections in the state in April-May.
Close
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that all subjects sign a consent form before the trials that detail all the possible adverse effects of the vaccine inoculation.(HT Photo)
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that all subjects sign a consent form before the trials that detail all the possible adverse effects of the vaccine inoculation.(HT Photo)

Ministry asks states to implement plan for regulating online health aggregators

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 08:55 PM IST
The ministry has further advised that the Department of Home of the state concerned may also be requested to investigate such matters with an objective to prevent any kind of violation (civil or criminal/cyber or otherwise) of applicable laws.
Close
India will on Thursday dispatch 500,000 doses of Covishield vaccines to Sri Lanka as grant assistance under its “Vaccine Maitri” initiative(MINT_PRINT)
India will on Thursday dispatch 500,000 doses of Covishield vaccines to Sri Lanka as grant assistance under its “Vaccine Maitri” initiative(MINT_PRINT)

News updates from HT: India extends 'Vaccine Maitri' initiative to Sri Lanka

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 08:53 PM IST
  • Here are today’s top news, analysis, and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar and Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Shekhawat will be the keynote speakers at the summit. (PTI)
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar and Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Shekhawat will be the keynote speakers at the summit. (PTI)

‘Never said doors for dialogue are closed’: Prakash Javadekar

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Ayshee Bhaduri, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 08:47 PM IST
  • "We have never said that the doors for dialogue are closed. Have you heard? Whenever talks are held, we will let you know," Prakash Javadekar said. The government has so far held 11 rounds of talks with the farmers who have been protesting since November 26 last year.
Close
A damaged police vehicle, damaged in Republic Day violence, is seen in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)
A damaged police vehicle, damaged in Republic Day violence, is seen in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

No one will be spared, says Delhi Police commissioner on R-Day violence

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 08:47 PM IST
Giving details about the injuries sustained by the cops, he said that 394 police personnel are injured and some of them are in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) of various hospitals.
Close
The accused was arrested on the complaint of the victim's father.(Representational Photo/Getty Images)
The accused was arrested on the complaint of the victim's father.(Representational Photo/Getty Images)

Uttarakhand man bludgeons 9-year-old cousin to death with cricket bat

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 08:43 PM IST
  • Police said the accused had an altercation with the victim earlier in the day and then barged into his room in the evening and thrashed him with a cricket bat.
Close
Indian farmer volunteers managing the stage keep guard at Singhu, the Delhi-Haryana border camp for protesting farmers against three farm bills, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021.(AP)
Indian farmer volunteers managing the stage keep guard at Singhu, the Delhi-Haryana border camp for protesting farmers against three farm bills, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021.(AP)

Day after violence, farm leaders postpone February 1 march to Parliament

By hindustantimes.com, HT Correspondent | Edited by Arpan Rai, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 09:41 PM IST
The farmers had decided to march to Parliament to mark their protest against the three contentious farm laws passed by the government in September last year.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP