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Karnataka: Jagatika Lingayat Mahasabha Renews Demand For Separate Religion Status, Seeks Deputy CM Posts For Lingayats, SCs, STs And Muslims

Swarajya Staff

May 19, 2023, 08:04 AM | Updated 04:37 PM IST

 Jagatika Lingayat Mahasabha/Facebook
Jagatika Lingayat Mahasabha/Facebook

Jagatika Lingayat Mahasabha has demanded that Congress should elevate a senior leader from Lingayats, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Muslims as Deputy Chief Ministers in recognition of the widespread support the party garnered from these communities in the recently held state assembly polls.

An influential group within the community, the Mahasabha spearheaded the agitation demanding a separate religious status for Lingayats. Senior Congress leader M.B Patil, who is set to be inducted into the new cabinet, and former bureaucrat Shivanand Jamadar are key office bearers of the Mahasabha. Patil, along with another ministerial colleague Vinay Kulkarni (now in jail in a murder case), led the demands for separate religious status.

Addressing media in Hubballi, Jamadar said that Congress's resounding victory in the polls was due to its support from Lingayats, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Muslims.

Jamadar urged the new Congress government to once again forward the recommendation providing religious status to Lingayat.

In March 2018, the Congress-led Siddaramaiah government decided to accord independent religious status to the Lingayat community and recommended the Union government grant it minority status. The move was seen as an attempt by Congress to queer the pitch for BJP as Lingayats form the bulwark of the party in the state.

"It was decided to grant the recognition of religious minority to Lingayat and Veerashaiva lingayats (believers of Basava tatva) under section 2(d) of the Karnataka State Minorities Act. This will be forwarded to the Centre for notification under section 2(C) of the National Commission for Minorities Act," the then Law minister TB Jayachandra said on the decision.

Many political observers and senior leaders of the party attributed the defeat of Congress in 2018 elections to the support extended by Siddaramaiah to the separate religion movement. In the election, the Congress fared poorly in the Lingayat-dominated constituencies, with a majority of prominent leaders who were actively involved in the separate Lingayat religion movement facing defeat.

While D,K Shivalumar issued a public apology for supporting the Lingayats' demand for a separate religion, Siddaramaiah continued to remain defiant

In December 2018, the union government however informed Karnataka High Court that it had rejected the recommendation of the state government to grant religious minority status to the Lingayat and Veerashaiva communities. The Centre reiterated its earlier position that these communities are part of the Hindu religion and do not form another religion of their own.

Demanding that the new Congress government should renew the efforts to grant separate religious status for Lingayats, Jamadar promised that the Mahasabha would provide the necessary support.

"We are ready to counter those reasons with facts and documentary evidence. We want the government to take it forward from where it has stopped and send the proposal again to the Union government. We may take a delegation to the government once the government is formed and things settle down," he said.

Jamadar said that although Lingayat leaders B.S. Yediyurappa and Basavaraj Bommai became Chief Ministers in the BJP government, they aligned with the party position, and the Mahasabha did not pursue the demand.

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