After Vokkaligas, Lingayat Ministers oppose 2016 Karnataka caste census

Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar submitted a similar petition to CM Siddaramaiah on behalf of the Vokkaligara Sangha.
Lingayat ministers submitted the petition to CM urging him to junk the caste sensus report.
Lingayat ministers submitted the petition to CM urging him to junk the caste sensus report.
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In a fresh resistance against the Congress party’s poll promise to publish caste census three senior ministers from the Lingayat community – MB Patil, Eshwar Khandre, and Shivanand Patil – signed a petition urging Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to discard the caste census conducted in 2016. The petition was signed by 30 other Lingayat MLAs. The leaders instead seek a fresh survey.  

The petition to scrap the 2016 caste census was handed over to the Chief Minister in Belagavi on Friday, December 15. The petition was signed by political leaders across various parties including BJP state president BY Vijayendra, Basangouda Patil Yatnal, Arvind Bellad, Laxman Savadi, Vijayanand Kashapannavar, and party chief whip Ashok M Pattan.

The petition was signed under the banner of the All-India Veerashaiva Mahasabha (AIVM). AIVM is the apex body of Veerashaiva Lingayats, one of the most politically powerful communities in the state. 

The petition, presented by AIVM president and senior Congress MLA Shamanur Shivashankarappa, stressed  the alleged shortcomings of the caste census, branding it as “unscientific”, “outdated”, and “lacking in groundwork”. 

Deputy CM DK Shivakumar had previously signed a similar petition a couple of months ago, along with other Vokkaliga leaders, raising doubts about the credibility of the same survey.

According to Times of India, the petition clarifies that they are not against the idea of a caste census, it highlights various issues with the 2016 survey. The Ministers and MLAs argue that the survey did not adequately reflect ground realities, with community members claiming that surveyors failed to visit their doorsteps, relying instead on office-based data compilation. Furthermore, the petition contends that the survey's consideration of sub-castes has led to division within the community and failed to accurately represent the true numbers of Veerashaiva-Lingayats in the state.

Read: Why Karnataka’s caste census report is still a secret: The inside story 

The petitioners raise concerns about the lack of cross-verification in cases where individuals self-declared their caste, further undermining the survey's credibility, they claim. Fearing a reduction in reservation benefits, the AIVM has called for a fresh socio-economic survey, asserting that accepting the current one would deny deserving poor, backward, and middle-class Veerashaiva Lingayats their entitled reservation and other benefits.

The caste census done by Kantharaj Committee has been a source of contention since its commissioning  during Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's initial term in 2015. Despite its completion, no government has officially accepted the report to date. The Lingayats and Vokkaligas, representing the two prominent communities in the state, have united in opposition to the caste census. Siddaramaiah has granted the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes an extension until January 2024 to present the report.

Read: Why India needs Caste Census: We need to count underprivileged and the privileged 

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