Friday, 27 April, 2018

Siddaramaiah Cabinet Clears Separate Religion Tag for Lingayats

Lingayats Win, Karnataka Govt Approves Special Religion Status 'Lingayat a Separate Religious Community', Karnataka Govt Gives Nod to Nagamohan Das Committee Report
Kenny Thornton | 19 March, 2018, 17:02

Ahead of 2018 state assembly polls in Karnataka, the Siddaramaiah government on Monday waved the green flag to recognise the Lingayat Community as a separate religion.

The decision came just a few months before the state Assembly elections.

"After due deliberations and some discussion on concerns of various sections of society, the cabinet has made a decision to accept the recommendations of the state minority commission which based on the report of an expert committee headed by Justice Nagamohan Das has recommended to consider grant of recognition as religious minority to the Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat, believers of Basava Tattva, under Section 2 (d) of the Karnataka Minorities Act".

The demand for a separate religion tag to Veerashaiva/ Lingayat faiths has surfaced from the numerically strong and politically-influential community, amidst resentment from within over projecting the two communities as the same. 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. After much debate, the Congress in Karnataka has given the Lingayat community the separate religion status in a historical move.

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Demands for recognising Lingayats, who form 16% of the state's population, as a separate religion got a fillip after Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced in 2017 he would make a recommendation to the Centre do so if it was a unanimous demand of the community. The move comes at a crucial time when the state of Karnataka is due to polls later in the year.

The BJP's chief ministerial candidate, BS Yeddyurappa, is a Lingayat. "If the state government intends to ensure the welfare of the community, it should then declare the Veerashaiva Lingayats as a religion", the memorandum stated, according to news reports. They believe Veerashaivas are one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part of Hinduism.

Lingayats are believed to be the largest vote bank with almost 20% electorate in Karnataka, which goes to polls in barely two months time. Many, however, think the community might still vote for the BJP despite the move.

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