A series of rallies in North Karnataka demanding independent religion status to Lingayats seems to have pushed the state government to consider the issue after refer the matter to the State Minorities Commission.
Speaking on Thursday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he would refer the matter to the commission. Within a day, an official order was issued, reported The Hindu.
Supporters of the separate Lingayat religion tag are happy with the decision since they feel that this is a chance for them to present their case before the commission.
Minister for Water Resources MB Patil, who is among the leaders spearheading the Lingayat demand for separate religion status said, âOur representatives will attend all hearings to present our case. We are hopeful of getting our demand met as we have all relevant documents,â he was quoted as saying in The Hindu.
Under the National Commission for Minorities Act, the Centre has the power to accord minority religious status to a community. The State government however is also exploring the possibility of according minority religious status under the Karnataka State Minorities Commission Act, according to Deccan Herald.
Will it be Lingayat or Lingayat-Veerashaiva?
Another question yet to be answered is whether the separate religion claim is being made for Lingayats alone or Lingayat-Veerashaiva.
One group agitating for a separate religion tag lead by ex-IAS officer SM Jamdaar says Lingayats and Veerashaivas are separate while another says they are the same. Jamdaar had earlier confirmed that negotiations between Lingayat and Veerashaiva groups over presenting a joint proposal for separate religion status had collapsed.
Speaking to The Hindu in Ballari, All-India senior vice-president of Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha N. Thippanna said the mahasabha was clear that Veerashaiva-Lingayat was independent of Hinduism and wanted independent religion status for âVeerashaiva-Lingayatâ as they were one and the same. âAll these years, there was no differentiation between Veerashaiva and Lingayat. The rift has been caused by the Congress,â he alleged.