BENGALURU: The move to recognise Lingayats as an independent minority religion may have just brought Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the Congress massive support from the community. The Forum of Lingayat seers on Saturday endorsed him.
Prominent Lingayat seer Mathe Mahadevi appealed to the community to support Siddaramaiah and the Congress in the upcoming assembly elections.
In what may come as a blow to the BJP and its chief ministerial candidate and Lingayat strongman B S Yeddyurappa, the forum declared that they will support those who support them and their demand for minority religion status. “Support begets support. Our fight will continue till our demand is met,” said Sri Shivamurthy Shivacharya Swamiji of Muruga Mutt of Chitradurga. While the seer maintained that the forum was apolitical, the appeal to cooperate with those who cooperate with them sent a strong signal to the community.
However, the BJP which rode to power for the first time in Karnataka riding on a massive Lingayat wave in 2007, is not amused. Union Minister H N Ananth Kumar accused Siddaramaiah of breaking the Hindu society.
“Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah are following Robert Clive’s policy of divide and rule,” he said. He alleged that the previous UPA government had rejected a proposal to accord minority religion status to Lingayats but the current state leadership was utilising the issue to break Hindu society. “BJP believes in uniting while the Congress believes in dividing,” he said.
Saturday’s meet saw participation of Lingayat seers from across the state but no representative of the prominent Siddaganga mutt was present. Mathe Mahadevi said, “Congress and CM Siddaramaiah have given us a huge gift with their decision to accord minority religion status to Lingayats. Now we will support them in the upcoming assembly elections,” she said.
Anger against BJP chief Amit Shah for his statements against separate religion status was palpable at the meeting.