Politics for religion tag to Lingayats hots up
There is a major political storm brewing in Karnataka ahead of Assembly polls about a section of Lingayat community seeking a separate religion status for them. The call given by 20 seers and pitadhipathis of the community under All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha ahead of master strategist and BJP’s national president Amit Shah’s three-day visit to State starting from Saturday is crucial and need to address the issue as the Lingayats are the vote bank of the BJP.
Political pundits say that the entire issue has taken its rebirth from the ruling Congress and by its few Lingayat Ministers who are aggressively campaigning for a separate religion to divide the community which is solidly behind the BJP. With over 17 per cent population in the State the divide would adversely affect the saffron party which is banking on the consolidation of Lingayat community. But the ruling Congress is supporting such a move to divide the vote share of the BJP to fight a decisive battle in the ensuing Assembly polls. They are also demanding minority status and want to be a separate religion along the lines of Sikhism, Jainism and Christianity.
As Karnataka is crucial for the Congress to keep its national identity its high command has asked Siddaramaiah to fight the battle to checkmate the BJP which has Mission 150 to make Karnataka Congress Mukth. With Lingayat strong man Yeddyurappa who is in the helm of affairs of the State BJP is strongly opposed to this and made it clear that Lingayats and Veerashaivas are the same to keep his vote bank intact. Yeddyurappa who is the un disputed leader of the sect now has to face the onslaught of a Congress strategy to divide them which is going to be suicidal for the party which is hoping to comeback to power in Karnataka to enter south. The BJP now banking on Amit Shah who is expected to work out a strategy has to deal with this issue which is crucial for the party.
“In the 12th century, Lord Basavanna founded an independent Lingayat religion, but after Independence, the Government of India failed to recognise Lingayat as a religion. The Centre has already recognised Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism. In the same way, we are asking them to recognise Lingayat as a religion,” said Jagadguru Mruthyunjaya Swamiji of Panchamasali Peetha, one of the influential mutts of the community.
Siddaramaiah said he had received requests from three bodies — the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, the Mathe-Mahadevi mutt and the Lingayat Mahasabha. “The Government will diligently examine the submission and will take an objective decision, abiding within the legal framework of the Constitution. There is no politics involved in this,” he told newspersons.
Karnataka Ministers Vinay Kulkarni and MB Patil are vigoursly behind this campaign and demand the Union Government to recognise this as separate religion like that of Buddism and Christianity.
However the BJP and several sections of Hindu community are opposed to the move to give Veerashaiva-Lingayat separate religion status and have accused the Siddaramaiah Government of dividing society to draw political mileage ahead of assembly elections 2018.
Siddaramaiah said his Government has no stand on the matter. The Chief Minister also said that a “misconception” is being created that he instigated the separate religion demand. “Government has no stand on this. There is this misconception that I started the issue,” Siddaramaiah said.
He said the Veerashaiva Mahasabha had organised a felicitation for him and requested him to ask the Centre to recommend an independent religion status to them.
“I said they should unitedly give the request and that the Government after examining it will make the recommendation. What is wrong in that? The issue was not initiated by me, it is they who made the request,” he told reporters in Chamarajanagar district.
The State BJP which is clueless on the impact of this is banking on Amit Shah for a strategy to come out of this which is crucial for the party.
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