Karnataka govt approves separate religion status for Lingayats

Lingayat a Separate Religious Community, Karnataka Govt Gives Nod to Nagamohan Das Committee Report

The demand for a separate religion tag and minority status has been a long pending demand of the Lingayat community. Based on the panel's report, the minorities' commission had asked the Congress government to recommend to the Centre that they accord minority status to the community. The report, submitted to the government on March 2, said the community can be granted a separate religion status.

Earlier on Sunday, a group of Lingayat seers had met Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah at his official residence to talk over the issue.

"After due deliberations and discussion on concerns of various sections of society, the cabinet has chose 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. The state cabinet has accepted the recommendations of Justice Nagmohan Das committee.

The decision came just a few months before the state Assembly elections. The Lingayats account for almost 17 per cent of the state's population.

Lingayats, a distinct Shaivate religious tradition, are followers of the 12th century poet-social reformer Basaveshwara who rebelled against established Hindu tradition by defying the caste system and vedic rituals. Yeddyurappa had said previous year in a rally that there was no difference between Veerashaivas and Lingayats and they were very much part of Hinduism. 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. "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. The move is being seen as a poll strategy of the Congress to divide the large Veerashaiva-Lingayat vote bank which traditionally favours the BJP.



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