Bengaluru (Karnataka) The Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka Government on Monday accepted the suggestions of Nagamohan Das committee to form a separate religion status of the Lingayats community.
The decision came just a few months before the state assembly elections.
The suggestion which has been accepted under section 2D of the state Minorities Commission Act will now be sent to the Central Govt. in Delhi, led by PM Modi, for the final approval.
A seven-member Nagamohan Das committee headed by retired high court Judge H N Nagamohan Das submitted its report on March 2, 2018, stating that “Lingayats in Karnataka may be considered as a religious minority.”
The move, which analysts see as an astute political move and opponents as an opportunistic one with an eye on the forthcoming state elections in Karnataka, acknowledges an almost four-decade long demand by the Lingayats.
Lingayats are followers of 12th century Brahmin saint Basavanna who rebelled against Brahminism and its ritualistic practices. He attracted followers from both upper and lower castes. After his death, his upper caste followers, the Veerashaivas adopted many of the very customs and practices Basavanna preached against, while the others, the Lingayats, didn’t. The hyphenated caste-grouping, Veerashaiva-Lingayat, was considered part of Hinduism. The Veerashaiva-Lingayat community accounts for around 16% of Karnataka’s population.
The Karnataka chief minister has in the past stated that he is willing to recommend the status of an independent religion for Lingayats if the demand is unanimous. The BJP has accused the Congress of attempting to divide the community for electoral gains, with BJP president Amit Shah calling the demand for a separate religion status a political game being played by the Congress.
Mohandas Pai call Congress communal
IT veteran and tech investor T V Mohandas Pai condemned Congress government’s decision. He said, “A very communal decision by the ‘Secular’ Congress govt. Big Shame, is this what Congress politics is all about? Breaking up the Hindu community because they are peaceful and quiet? This will consolidate Hindu votes against Congress.”