Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to Basaveshwara on the banks of the River Thames on Wednesday as part of his ongoing UK tour. Modi garlanded a statue of the 12th-century Lingayat philosopher and social reformer.
Modi earlier inaugurated the statue during his official visit to the British capital in 2015.
Land for the statue was secured by the Basaveshwara Foundation on the river’s Albert Embankment during the tenure of Neeraj Patil, the former Mayor of the London borough of Lambeth and the chairman of the Basaveshwara Foundation.
Following the ceremony, the Prime Minister tweeted, “On his Jayanti, I bow to Bhagwan Basaveshwara. He has a special place in our history and culture. His emphasis on social harmony, brotherhood, unity and compassion always inspires us. Bhagwan Basaveshwara brought our society together and gave importance to knowledge.”
On his Jayanti, I bow to Bhagwan Basaveshwara. He has a special place in our history and culture. His emphasis on social harmony, brotherhood, unity and compassion always inspires us.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 18, 2018
Bhagwan Basaveshwara brought our society together and gave importance to knowledge. pic.twitter.com/akJPVyuH5D
Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah also paid tribute to Basaveshwara on Wednesday by garlanding his statue at the Basaveshwara Circle in Bengaluru. However, he was met with protests by the World Lingayat Mahasabha, who urged Shah to clarify his party’s stand on the Karnataka government’s recommendation to grant separate religion status.
Following the Congress party’s recommendation to grant separate religion status for Lingayats and Veerashaivas who follow Basava Tatva, the demand is one of the issues on the political agenda in this election.
Lingayats are followers of the 12th-century poet-philosopher-social reformer Basaveshwara, who rebelled against established Hindu traditions by defying the caste system and vedic rituals. In their bid for a separate religion status, Lingayats were eager to dissociate themselves from Veerashaaivas, a Shaivite religious tradition, whose followers adhere to the vedas. Lingayats, on the contrary, do not believe in rituals or vedas.