As Karnataka government declares minority status for Lingayats, Veershaiva Mahasabha deplores decision

The Karnataka government has declared minority status to the Lingayat community in the state, ANI reported on Friday. The declaration comes days after the state Cabinet's decision on the same.

Slamming the decision of the Karnataka Cabinet, the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha said in Bengaluru that it is clear the government did this only due to the upcoming election in the state.

The Mahasabha further said, "If you are really interested in the community, you should say Veerashaiva and Lingayat is one and the same. Except this, the government is saying everything else."

The Mahasabha had earlier said that it would not accept the Karnataka Cabinet's decision and called it "height of injustice".

File image of Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. Twitter@siddaramaiah

File image of Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. Twitter@siddaramaiah

In a decision fraught with political implications in poll-bound Karnataka, the state cabinet had decided to recommend to the Centre the grant of religious minority tag for the numerically strong Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community. The meeting considered the recommendations of a committee under the Karnataka State Minority Commission amid reports of a division among ministers and discordant notes from seers of the community on the issue.

Law Minister TB Jayachandra had said the Karnataka State Minority Commission, based on the report of an expert committee, has recommended considering grant of recognition as a religious minority to the Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayats (believers of Basava Tatva (philosophy) under Section 2 (d) of the Karnataka State Minorities Act.

Mahasabha president Shamanur Shivashankarappa told News18 that the state recommendation sent to the Centre clearly states that whoever follows Basava tatva or philosophy can be considered a religious minority. "We are opposing it because the Veerashaiva sect was there even before Basavanna, who founded the Lingayat religion in 12th century. We feel that we have been betrayed by the government," he added.

Shivashankarappa also said, "Our feeling is that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one. Veerashaiva Mahasabha will not accept the Cabinet decision."

Clashes even broke out on 19 March between Lingayat and Veerashaiva followers in Kalaburagi. According to ANI, the clashes broke after followers from both communities gathered in the same area to voice their opinion about the issue. The Lingayat followers had come there to celebrate the state cabinet's decision, while the Veerashaiva followers had come to the same area to protest against the decision, following which a scuffle began.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Mar 23, 2018 18:55:46 IST

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