Former minister and Congress leader denies political agenda
Senior Congress leader and former minister M.B. Patil played down the controversial demand of ‘religious minority’ tag for the Lingayat-Veerashaiva community and said a decision on this demand will be taken after the State Legislative Assembly elections in 2023.
During the Siddaramaiah government, Mr. Patil attempted to mobilise support for a ‘separate religion’ tag for the Lingayat-Veerashaiva community.
Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru on September 3, the former minister said, “I have not raised the demand for a separate religion tag for the Lingayat-Veerashaiva community. I do not have a political agenda or any political motive for seeking the religious minority tag for the community.”
On Congress leaders maintaining distance from the issue, Mr. Patil said there was no relation between the Congress party and unity of the Lingayat-Veerashaiva community. The community’s unity would not damage the Congress, he said.
Mr. Patil said the minority tag would benefit for community in availing reservation in State and Central government jobs, and seats in educational institutions. However, the issue would be taken up only after the 2023 Assembly elections in Karnataka and all decisions would be made after arriving at a consensus involving leaders and seers of all sub-sects of the community. There are 99 sub-sects in the community.
History of demand
Former IAS officer S.M. Jamdaar spearheaded the movement for a separate religion tag for Lingayats. The Justice Nagamohan Das committee, which was formed in December 2017 to decide on the matter, had suggested that Lingayats be identified as a separate religion.
Prior to the 2018 elections, Karnataka Cabinet decided to go ahead with the recommendations of the Justice Nagamohan Das committee. The Congress government sought the Central government’s nod for giving separate religion status for Lingayat-Veerashaivas (followers of Basavanna). The move was opposed by former Congress ministers Eshwar Khandre and S.S. Mallikarjun.
Political analysts and the BJP had accused the Congress of playing up the issue for electoral gains. It was widely believed that the demand for a separate religion tag was one of the reasons for the defeat of Congress in the 2018 Assembly elections.
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