The Congress government in Karnataka on Thursday, January 19 took a slew of major decisions ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, with an eye on wooing the influential Lingayat and Dalit communities. A cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah declared 18th century social reformer Basavanna as Karnataka's cultural leader.
Basavanna is revered by the Lingayat community, which forms the core strength of the BJP in Karnataka. However, in the recent Assembly elections, the Congress managed to make inroads into the community and garnered some support. Recently, a delegation of Lingayat seers met Siddaramaiah and demanded that Basavanna should be declared as Karnataka's cultural leader.
Further, the cabinet has agreed to rename Kittur taluk in Belagavi district as "Rani Chennamma Kittur taluk" after the warrior queen from the Lingayat community who fought and was martyred in the fight against the British.
In another important decision, the Congress government has decided to send recommendation to the Union government to amend Article 341 (3) to review the internal reservations granted to the Scheduled Caste (SC) community by the previous BJP government.
After the meeting, Social Welfare Minister Dr HC Mahadevappa said, "We gathered all documents and discussed with AG and Law Secretaries, other legal experts, and today [Thursday], we have taken a decision. Since Congress is committed to justice and reservation and to protect interests of 101 castes that fall under SC list, without dropping any community from the list, considering inadequacy and backwardness, we have recommended for carrying out amendment of Article 341 (3). The recommendation would be sent to the Union government after the cabinet decision."
He noted that the previous BJP government had stated that Justice AJ Sadashiva Inquiry Commission report was "irrelevant and closed". "We are committed to social justice and reservation. We are not pursuing politics with regards to the issue," Mahadevappa stated.
Food Minister KH Muniyappa said that after the amendment is done by the Parliament, it would be possible to render justice to all 101 castes under the SC category. "I appeal to communities under SC category that no injustice will be done to any community. If the Union government doesn’t carry out the amendment, a struggle will be launched," he said.
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister HK Patil said that the session of the state legislature has been called from February 12 and Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot will address the joint session on that day. The budget would be presented on February 16 and the session will last till February 23, he added.