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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Lingayat community will support party which ensures minority status

During the 2014 election season, the community held a six-day protest in Karad. Devendra Fadnavis ensured reservation for the community however, that never materialised

pune Updated: Mar 17, 2019 14:51 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
Lingayat community leaders and members at a meeting in Sangli on Saturday to discuss how to participate in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Lingayat community leaders and members at a meeting in Sangli on Saturday to discuss how to participate in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.(Uday Deolekar/ HT PHOTO)

The Lingayats of Sangli will pledge its support to whichever party that ensures minority status and reservation to its community, said Pradeep Wale, head of Lingayat Dharma Jagruti Abhiyan. The Lingayat community is a group of people who worship Lord Shiva.

“We held a six-day protest during the last election. Devendra Fadnavis, the present chief minister, visited Karad (where the protest was held) and ensured that an application in favour of reservation for the community will be presented to the central government. That never materialised. We are now going to support whichever party takes our side,” said Wale, who is keeping a track of the candidates representing parties in Sangli. During the 2014 election season, Vinod Tawde, Jayant Patil and late RR Patil had also shown up at the Lingayat protests, he said.

In the past week, Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana cemented his party’s alliance with the Congress. In exchange, however, he has asked for complete representation in Sangli or Wardha, both beacons of hope for Congress.

“In the Parliament, Raju Shetti has upheld the issue of our community and other minority communities, but that does not mean that we pledge our support to him. We will wait till the decision is made. We are a strong community that can tilt the poll outcome if we decide,” said Wale.

He claimed that there are around 6 crore Lingayat community members in the country and of them, 1.25 crore reside in Maharashtra. The community has undertaken unifying activity throughout the state in the past few years, Wale said. “The result of those activities could be seen in the protest held last week. Lakhs of people turned up for it,” he said.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Swabhimani party are fighting it out for the Sangli seat, the Lingayat samaj is reserving its decision to support any of them. The community plans to hold meets in other places of Maharashtra, including Kolhapur, Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik to spread the message.

First Published: Mar 17, 2019 14:50 IST

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