Lingayats and Veerashaiva-Lingayats notified as religious minority, subject to central approval
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Lingayats and Veerashaiva-Lingayats notified as religious minority, subject to central approval

Criticising the Karnataka govt decision, All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha sought minority status for the entire sect. BJP CM candidate BS Yeddyurappa has welcomed the development.

karnataka Updated: Mar 23, 2018 23:18 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Lingayat,Veerashaiva,BS Yeddyurappa
The Lingayat controversy in Karnataka has caused some discomfort to BJP chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa. (PTI File)

The Karnataka minorities welfare department has notified the Lingayats and Veerashaiva-Lingayats as a religious minority, but said the change will come into effect after the Centre approves the state government’s recommendation on the issue.

In its notification, the Department of Minorities, Haj and Wakf stated that it recognises Lingayats and Veerashaiva-Lingayats as minorities without affecting the rights and interests of other religious minorities in Karnataka, including reservations.

The March 22 notification is seen as an attempt to put pressure on the Centre to approve the Karnataka cabinet’s contentious decision of according religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva-Lingayats.

However, the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha criticised the Karnataka cabinet’s decision to only recognise Lingayats and Veerashaiva-Lingayats (who adhere to 12th century philosopher Basavanna’s teachings) as minorities, and demanded that the entire sect be called Veerashaiva-Lingayats.

Mahasabha president Shamanur Shivashankarappa, who is also a Congress MLA, insisted that it was wrong of the state government to add a caveat that only Veerashaivas who follow the teachings of 12th philosopher Basaveshwara should be considered a minority. “We have come to a decision that the entire sect should be called Veerashaiva-Lingayat, and it must together be considered a minority,” he said. “The sub-clause that only those Veerashaiva-Lingayats who adhere to Basavanna’s philosophy must be dropped.”

The Mahasabha said a 2013 petition seeking a separate code for the community’s enumeration in the census must be considered by the Centre instead of the state government’s recommendation. BJP chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa, who is a Lingayat, had previously said that he would stand by the Mahasabha’s decision.

Mahasabha senior vice-president N Thipanna said the organisation does not oppose the grant of minority status. “The issue we have is with the nomenclature arrived at by an expert committee that does not know anything about the sect,” he added.

Yeddyurappa welcomed the Mahasabha’s decision later in the day. “I am very happy with the decision and I thank Shivashankarappa for this,” he said.

While the Mahasabha’s decision came as a relief to the beleaguered Yeddyurappa, political analyst Narendar Pani said the former chief minister is still not in a comfortable position. While the BJP has termed the state government’s decision as an attempt to break Hindu society ahead of the state assembly polls, the Mahasabha doesn’t seem averse to procuring the separate religion status for the community.

“The BJP wanted to contest the polls on the basis of Hindutva votes and support from Lingayats. But more and more of these planks seem to be drifting in opposite directions,” said Pani, who is a faculty member at the National Institute of Advanced Studies.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Mar 23, 2018 23:17 IST