The ongoing face-off between Veerashaiva and Lingayat leaders has created a rift in the cabinet.

Cabinet divided over religious minority tag for Lingayats defers decision to Mar 14
news Religion Friday, March 09, 2018 - 19:52

Differences have cropped up within the Siddaramaiah cabinet over the question of recommending ‘religious minority’ tag for the Lingayat community.

The ongoing face-off between Veerashaiva and Lingayat leaders created a rift in the cabinet on Thursday.

Water Resources Minister MB Patil and Basavaraj Rayareddi were in favour of going ahead with the Justice Nagamohan Das Committee report which recommends ‘religious minority’ tag for Lingayats.

However, they were strongly opposed by Municipal Administration Minister Eshwar Khandre and Horticulture Minister SS Mallikarjun.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah intervened as the arguments escalated and decided to defer the issue to a later date. The issue will now be discussed in the next cabinet meeting on March 14.

Former IAS officer SM Jamdaar, who is spearheading the Lingayat movement for separate religion tag said that the differences between the leaders belonging to Veerashaiva and Lingayat community caused the issue to be deferred to a later date. “It is nothing unexpected or nothing new. The leaders who have opposed it in the cabinet are the same people who have opposed the Lingayat movement in the last ten months. They are representing the Veerashaiva Mahasabha and they want Veerashaivas to also get a religious minority tag,” he explained.   

SS Mallikarjun is the son of All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha President Shamanur Shivashankarappa while Khandre has previously said that Veerashaivas and Lingayats should not be divided.

The Lingayat movement, which was started in 1942, was resurrected last year by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s promise to look into the demand for a separate religion tag for Lingayats and Veerashaivas.

A series of rallies in various parts of North Karnataka demanding an independent religion status to Lingayats pushed the state government to consider the issue, by referring the matter to the State Minorities Commission.

Eventually, a seven-member expert committee was formed in December 2017 to study five separate demands, three of which were for a separate minority religion status for Lingayats. One representation stated that the Lingayat community members are Hindus and another demanding minority religion tag for the Veerashaiva-Lingayat sect.

The committee recommended ‘religious minority tag’ for Lingayats. It concluded that there is enough evidence to differentiate Lingayat religion from Hindu religion and also added that Veerashaivas - another sect looking to get religious minority status, too can be part of the larger umbrella of ‘Lingayat religion’, as per a report by The Hindu.

Jamdaar had earlier confirmed that negotiations between Lingayat and Veerashaiva groups over presenting a joint proposal for separate religion status had collapsed.

While the next cabinet meeting on March 14 will take a decision, a court case related to the issue in the Karnataka High Court is still being heard. The court had earlier put a rider on the process initiated by the State Minorities Committee on the formation of the panel and its report and said that further steps will be subject to the court’s final decision. The next hearing in the case is on March 9.

 

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