In a move that will have a bearing on the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections, the Siddaramaiah-led Cabinet on Monday chose to write to the Centre to grant religious minority status to the Lingayat community. Making a huge statement ahead of the polls, the cabinet gave its nod to the recommendation of separate religion for Lingayat community. The state government has forwarded its recommendations to the Centre, who has to take the final decision. To overcome the dissidence, the Congress has made a decision to accord minority status to Lingayats, including Veerashaivas, who follow the teachings of the patron saint of the Lingayat community Basavanna.
In their bid for a separate religion status, the Lingayats wanted to dissociate themselves from Veerashaaivas, also a Shaivate religious tradition, whose followers adhere to the vedas.
According to reports, the panel led by retired judge of High Court of Karnataka Justice Nagamohan Das had initially said it requires six months to submit the report, it, surprisingly, handed over the report in a month's time.
The demand for a separate religion tag to Veerashaiva/Lingayat faiths has surfaced from the numerically strong and politically-influential community, amidst resentment from within over projecting the two communities as the same.
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On its part, the state government held meetings earlier but the Cabinet could not reach a conclusion because of disagreement among Lingayat and Veerashaiva ministers. He warned that Congress will have to face the music if the Cabinet recommends for separate religion status for Lingayats.
A seven-member panel was constituted by Karnataka State Minorities Commission to study the demand for a separate religion status. On Saturday, a group of Lingayat seers had met Chief Minister Siddharamaiah, requesting him to implement the committee report and accord a separate religion and community status to Lingayats.
Of late, some Lingayats have also stated that they were open to having the Veerashaivas under their umbrella, but the Lingayat nomenclature was non-negotiable. BJP state unit chief BS Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat himself, had alleged that the Siddharamaiah-led Congress government was taking interest now as it was concerned about the assembly elections round the corner.
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