BENGALURU: The state government on Friday set up a seven-member expert committee, headed by former Karnataka High Court judge Justice H N Nagamohan Das, to evaluate proposals seeking recognition of ‘Lingayats/Veerashaiva Lingayats’ as a religious minority. An order to the effect was issued by Karnataka State Minorities Commission on Friday and the committee has been mandated to “make necessary recommendation to the Commission within a period of four weeks.”
The order comes at a time when two ministers of the state government — Water Resources Minister M B Patil and Mines and Geology Minister Vinay Kulkarni — are spearheading a campaign for separate religion tag for Lingayats in the poll-bound state. The movement has irked the opposition BJP after several Lingayat swamijis backed the separate religion demand. BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa had recently told The New Indian Express that the agitation for ‘Lingayat Dharma’ will not have any impact on BJP’s prospects.
“The report of the Expert Committee shall be placed before the Commission for consideration and for making suitable recommendations to the government,” the order said.Lingayats, who form the largest community in the state, have traditionally favoured the BJP. The agitation for separate religion tag for Lingayats was launched this year and massive rallies were held in parts of the state pushing for minority status, along the lines of Jains. Though the Congress-led state government had tried to distance itself from the agitation, ministers Patil and Kulkarni have continued their campaign for the separate religion status.
Though top BJP leaders had not openly expressed their support to the demand, they however had decided to abide by the stand taken by Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha.
Members of the committee
Other members of the committee are S G Siddaramaiah, chairman, Kannada Development Authority, Ramakrishna Marathe, lecturer, Belagavi, Sarjoo Katkar, journalist, Dr Muzaffar Assadi, Professor, University of Mysore, Purushotham Bilimane, Professor and head, Kannada Language Chair, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Dwarkanath, former chairman of the Backward Classes Commission. Secretary of the Commission, Anees Siraj will be the Secretary of the Expert Committee