Cong govt in Karna to recommend religious minority tag to Lingayats

Lingayat Rally in Belagavi in 2017

"After due deliberations and discussion on concerns of various sections of society, the cabinet has made a decision to accept the recommendation of the Karnataka minorities commission, which based on the report of an experts committee, recommended to consider grant of recognition as a religious minority to the Lingayat and Veerashaiva-Lingayat [believers of Basava Tattva or teachings] under section 2 (d) of the Karnataka Minorities Act", Jayachandra said. It has accused the Siddaramaiah government of dividing the society to draw political mileage ahead of the assembly elections this year. It was also chose to forward the same to the Central Government for notifying under Section 2 (C) of the Central Minority Commission Act.

Karnataka State Minorities Commission had formed a seven-member committee in December 2017, headed by retired high court Judge HN Nagamohan Das to decide on the matter.

Lingayats are the followers of 12th-century social reformer and mystic Basavanna or Basaveshwara, who revolted against the caste system in Hinduism.

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.

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If Lingayats get the religious minority tag, they could get educational benefits and that could extend to educational institutions run by them. As per reports, the state government has taken the step to impress the voters of dominant Lingayat Community. One part of the community demands the minority status for both Veerashaiva and Lingayats considering them the same, while another wants it only for the Lingayats as it considers Veershaivas to be Hindus.

BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate B.S Yeddyurappa is a strong Lingayat leader himself and would now find himself in a sticky wicket as RSS has officially opposed the separate Lingayat religion movement.

The Congress move aims to divide the votes BJP would rely on to win the election. "Do not consider this as a threat but a request from the community to protect its interests", the seers said in a memorandum to the state government.

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