The BJP has accused Siddaramaiah of trying to split the Lingayat community.

CM Siddaramaiah asks Lingayats to submit plea demanding separate religion status ministers back him
news Politics Thursday, July 27, 2017 - 08:07

In an attempt to either split or grab the entire Lingayat vote bank ahead of state polls next year, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urged the community's leaders, who are demanding a separate religion status, to submit a formal plea, so that the issue can be taken up with the Centre.

Speaking to media persons, Siddaramiah said, “I cannot promise positive results. The Lingayat community has to come forward and submit a petition seeking special status. I have not yet received any petition. I request the community to do so,” the CM said.

Siddaramaiah is hoping to receive the petition soon enough, as the demand from a portion of the Lingayat community, for a minority religion status, is strong.

The Chief Minister will benefit from the issue electorally, just as he did with the Khalsa-Banduri issue, where priority was given to provide water to Gadag, Dharwad and Belagavi districts, the Times of India reported.

According to political analyst, Prof Muzaffar Assadi, the Congress’ move will put BJP in a fix. “Once the petition is sent to the Centre, the decision of granting an independent religion status to the Lingayat community will shift from the Congress to the BJP. The saffron party will come under a lot of pressure as the polls are nearing. If the BJP does nothing about the issue at the central level, the Congress will have the leverage to split the Lingayat vote as some members of the Lingayat community don’t want to separate from Hinduism, while others do,” he added.

In addition, senior ministers from Siddaramaiah’s cabinet have also come forward and offered their support.

A team of five Lingayat ministers led by Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy has already announced a state-wide tour next month to campaign for the cause.

Energy Minister and prominent Vokkaliga leader D K Shivakumar slammed the BJP for opposing the demand. “BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa is accusing the Congress of trying to split the Lingayat community. It is Yeddyurappa who tried to split the community by including a sub-sect of Lingayats under 2A Category so as to provide them higher quota of reservation,” he told reporters. 

Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya, a Dalit leader, said that it is the government’s duty to respond to a demand by a community. Lingayat community has submitted a memorandum to the government and it will look into it, he said. 

Medical Education Minister Dr Sharan Prakash Patil, another Lingayat leader, while commenting on the “sudden support offered by the Congress”, said that the Congress had previously not shown interest in according religion status to Lingayat community as no request was filed. 

“The Congress did not start this debate. A call seeking separate status was given 40 years ago. Even the Veerashaiva Mahasabha agreed to this. The government does not want to divide people based on caste lines. We have decided to seek public opinion on this demand,” he added.