BENGALURU:Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Congress strategists seem to have partially achieved their goal by triggering a debate within the Lingayat community and putting the BJP on the back foot ahead of the assembly polls. However, many complex issues are yet to be addressed before the community gets the minority religion tag and the benefits associated with it.
Lingayat community is not one entity, but a group of 99 castes and sub-castes, including those belonging to SC and OBC. Many of them may not opt for the minority religion tag and relinquish the benefits they are already getting now. Also, there is no reservation in education or employment for a minority religion.
“Out of 99 castes listed within the Lingayat community, about 20 come under SC and another 15 come under OBC. Can the government take those categories out from SC and OBC list and ask them to avail benefits only as a minority religion? This is not going to happen,” said vice-president of All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, Gururaj Hunasimarad. “This is done in such a way that it will help only the powerful people running educational institutions and not with an intention to help people from the community,” he said. Minority education institutions get privileges in admissions.
According to sources, about 7 per cent of Lingayats come under SC/ST category. Now, they have to decide if they want to continue to be part of Hindu religion and to get benefits, or be part of Lingayat religion and give up on the benefits.
Member of Justice Nagamohan Das Committee, Sarjoo Karkar said Lingayat religion consists of people from many castes which have followed social reformer Basavanna’s teachings.“Lingayat community is a group of castes that emerged as a separate religion. Many castes and communities that were considered untouchables in the 12th century started following Basavanna’s teaching and became Lingayats. Madara, Samagara, Dhor and Mochi are some of those communities,” he said.According to him, it’s for the people of those castes to decide if they want to be part of the Lingayat religion or stay in the Hindu religion.
THE CASTE MIX
99 castes in Lingayat community
Around 20 of them are OBCs, 15 SC/STs
Around 7 per cent of people in Lingayat community come under SC/ST, OBCs
Lingayats are spread across the state, more in Hyderabad-Karnataka and Mumbai-Karnataka region.
Agriculture is the major profession. Also includes traders/oil extractors/tailors/stone crushers/boatmen/fisherfolk.