In Karnataka, where drama between the Congress-JD(S) and the BJP had taken over state politics for the past few days, the rival sides have come together to raise one demand: Bharat Ratna for Shivakumara Swami, the prominent Lingayat seer who passed away on Monday.
Initially, it was Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy who urged the Centre to confer the prestigious award on the seer. When the 111-year-old seer was receiving treatment for lung infection last week, Kumaraswamy had said that he will personally write, as well as meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi with this request. "Honours like the Bharat Ratna will have value when it recognises people like Swamiji," News18 quoted him as saying.
After the Siddaganga Mutt seer's demise on Monday, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, too, made the same demand. "He (Shivakumara) is worthy of getting the title. Such a great man from Karnataka, it is worth to bestow the Bharat Ratna on him," he said.
Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress, after the demise of Siddaganga Math seer Sri Shivakumara Swamiji: I request the government of India to give him Bharat Ratna. He is worthy of getting the title. Such a great man from Karnataka, it is worth to bestow the Bharat Ratna on him. pic.twitter.com/Ryl3BtvMjf
— ANI (@ANI) January 21, 2019
State BJP president BS Yeddyurappa — who was also seen alongside Kumaraswamy on Monday during the announcement of Shivakumara's death — said in a condolence message, "The Siddaganga Mutt was the epicentre of a silent revolution in the field of education and in providing food. The passing away of the seer has created a feeling of orphan among the millions."(sic) He further said: "Considering his service to humanity, I had appealed to the prime minister to confer Bharat Ratna on Siddaganga seer. I reiterate my appeal to the Government of India to consider my request."
JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda said that he had already written to the Centre in this regard earlier and will write another letter again.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) January 21, 2019
The clamour grew as Karnataka deputy chief minister G Parameshwara, too, joined the bandwagon. "We urge Central government to honour 'Walking God' Shivakumara Swami ji with Bharat Ratna at the earliest. This greatest humanitarian seer is beyond the boundaries of politics and is the embodiment of love. Honouring his work will only enhance the highest civilian award further," he said in a tweet.
The Milath Education Society in Davanagere also urged the government to honour Shivakumar Swami with India's highest civilian award. The Times of India reported that honorary president of Millath Education Society, Syed Saifulla, board of directors, staff and students made the request while condoling the pontiff’s death.
However, the demand may not be met so easily. A home ministry official told Deccan Chronicle that the rules fixed for Bharat Ratna do not cover spiritual leaders. He further added that this may "open a Pandora’s Box" as devotees of other religious leaders may also seek the civilian award for their gurus.
The highly-revered pontiff of the influential Lingayats, the major community in Karnataka, is a recipient of Padma Bhushan and Karnataka Ratna, the highest state civilian award. His funeral is set to be held at 4.30 pm on Tuesday in Tumakuru.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jan 22, 2019 12:52:13 IST