Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Karnataka govt gives nod to recommend Lingayat community as separate religion

Karnataka govt gives nod to recommend Lingayat community as separate religion Karnataka govt gives nod to recommend Lingayat community as separate religion
Melinda Barton | 19 March, 2018, 17:04

The Karnataka government on Monday gave its approval to the recommendation on special religion status for the Lingayat community. They cited a report by an official committee which recommended to grant a separate religion and minority status to the community and urged Siddaramaiah to implement the recommendations.

The state government has said that granting minority status to Lingayats should not affect existing benefits to other religious or linguistic minorities.

A group of Veerashaiva seers met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah last week and expressed resentment over the proposed move of the state government to recommend separation of Lingayats from the Hindu category of Veerashaiva Lingayats.

The panel, headed by retired high court judge H N Nagamohan Das, recently recommended separate religion status for the community. While one section led by Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha had demanded separate religion status, asserting that Veerashaiva and Lingayats are the same, the other wants it only for Lingayats as it believes that Veerashaivasare one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part of Hinduism.

The Karnataka Cabinet on Monday made a decision to recommend to the Centre to declare Lingayats and Veerashiva-lingayats who follow the philosophy of social reformer Basaveshwara as a religious minority.

The decision had been anticipated for quite some time but the timing is interesting, as it has been taken close to the dawn of assembly elections in the state.

The Lingayat/Veerashaiva community that owes allegiance to the "social reform movement" initiated by Basaveshwara has a substantial population in Karnataka, especially in the northern parts of the state. "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.

In a memorandum to the state government they said, "If the state government intends to ensure the welfare of the community, it should then declare the Veerashaiva Lingayats as a religion".

Lingayats are believed to be the largest vote bank with almost 20% electorate in Karnataka, which goes to polls in barely two months time.