news Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | February 5, 2015 | 3. 59 pm IST The politically dominant and numerically strong Lingayat community has repeated that it is suspicious of the state government’s ongoing caste census, in an apparent show of strength to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. During a meeting of the Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha, the leaders of the community including politicians cutting across party lines expressed their views and said that the government’s caste census would “divide society”. The move is significant as it was held on the same day as the Assembly session began.  Participants to the rally included Horticulture Minister Shamanur Shivashankarappa who is the president of the mahasabha, minister for IT and BT S R Patil, Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar, Congress leader Veeranna Mattikatti.  During the meeting, it was resolved to demand that the Siddaramaiah government give more representation to the community in cabinet as it is the largest numerical group in the state. The meeting also said that the caste survey would divide society. Asked about what they meant by “dividing society”, state president N Thippanna, a former four-time MLC and senior advocate told The News Minute: “When we call ourselves secular, what is the need for a caste census? There is no need for a caste census. We know how many Muslims, SCs, STs are there.” “Is a caste census necessary? Have they conducted a caste census in any other state? The government already has a list. They know how many people are there. It is the same situation in other states, but are they doing this? There must be some ulterior motive behind this,” Thippanna said. Reservations Thippanna also said that the Lingayats were not opposed to reservation for any community. “What we want is a code (in the national census), but they are not giving us one.” The Veerashaivas have been demanding recognition as a separate religion for a long time now. He said that the caste census would “create new factions, and those factions which were forgotten would also be remembered anew.” However, what the community is asking for is more representation in the government. He added: “We are two crore (population in the state). There are 30 deputy commissioners but how many of them are Lingayats?” When pointed out that Lingayats too were included as backward castes and were entitled to reservations in education and jobs under category 3B, Thippanna said: “We are at least 20 percent of the population of the state. But how much reservation do we have? Just three percent. And it is not for all Lingayats. The government should give us representation proportionate to our population.” However, when asked about the government’s stated position that there was a need for a scientific survey in order to distribute the benefits of reservation equitably among communities that were identified as backward, Thippanna said: “If they don’t know how many Harijans are there, why do they run a government?” This assertion of their Lingayat identity is seen by many as a means to bargain for a better ministerial posts with the government. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was one of the architects of the Ahinda movement – Alpasankhyata, Hindulida, Dalita chaluvali (the Minority, backward classes and Dalit movement) and his rise to chief minister is seen as a challenge by many.  Lingayats are widely considered to be a powerful group, both politically and socially. The community’s origins in the anti-caste movement built by social reformed and Kannada poet Basavanna have now come full circle with the community perceived as turning the Lingayat community into another caste. Tweet
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